Thursday, November 10, 2011

xhin - sword

so, it is finally upon us: xhin's sword. it's the singapore artist's third long-player, and the second stroboscopic artefacts LP after lucy's fine debut album wordplay for working bees from earlier this year. xhin has plenty of experience in the world of pulsing, cutting-edge techno, but sword is without a doubt his deepest dive into uncharted waters yet.
the shivering tones of 'the secret closet' begins the journey, leading to the angular interplay of kicks and glitches on 'fox and wolves' - you'd be forgiven if it takes you a minute to wrap your head around the rhythm. next up is 'teeth', undoubtedly a highlight of the album with a charmingly melodic middle section.

next, 'insides' and 'wood' reveals xhin's affinity toward classical music and minimalism, with 'wood' sounding like an ultra hi-fi resurrection of an old, regal piano score. it's a pleasant surprise that still somehow feels like a logical tangent away from xhin's more club-ready material.

the album jumps back into rhythmic chaos with 'medium', which positions a mysterious sequence of tones against more pummeling drums and glitchy tracers. what follows is sword's final section of clinical techno workouts: the urgent sirens of 'you against yourself', the tripping atmospheres of 'vent', and then the final rhythmic piece, 'foreshadowed', which offers a bit of respite with its glacial chord movements.

things wind down with the perfectly-titled 'this is what you drew while you were half asleep', a beat-less collection of emotionally charged textures. it's a fitting end to an album that blends together chunks of techno, glitch, and IDM into one comprehensive, futuristic vision. dadub's steely mastering work, which has played an important role in sculpting the 'sound' of stroboscopic artefacts, only enhances the effect. after an album like sword, perhaps the most appropriate question for xhin and SA is this: what happens next?

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