I've always subconsciously associated René Pawlowitz's Shed alias with "woodshedding," a term that musicians use to describe going off in private to hone their craft. While Pawlowitz treated us to new EQD and Wax records last year, he's been keeping Shed in the shed for nearly a year-and-a-half; he returns with a new single for 50 Weapons, a teaser for his upcoming LP, that challenges all and sundry to step up their game—not just his musical peers, but also critics and listeners, who may struggle to find language up to the task of describing this stuff.
Neither track here hews to conventional club music forms. "The Praetorian" creeps along in 4/4 time at 115 beats per minute, but you'll never confuse it for slo-mo house. There are only two drum sounds that I can hear—a kick drum suffused in white noise and resonant squelch and a rimshot that sounds like it's been soaking in dry ice—and their blunt cadence scans less as "groove" than apocalyptic war dance. But their methodical violence is tempered by the flat-out gorgeous synthesizer pads that billow around them, suggesting '90s ambient at its most rose-tinted.
"RQ-170" similarly challenges you to pin it down. It trundles along at 160 BPM (or 80, depending on how you parse the downbeats), but its lurching kicks and nervous, 8th-note clicks don't sound anything like drum & bass as conventionally rendered. If anything, the mood is even more apocalyptic, with buzz-bomb drones and atonal, horror-film synths. But this isn't kitschy bombast; it doesn't take "hard" or "scary" as an end in itself. The blasted palette and unsettling rhythms are just starting points. Out beyond the woodshed, you can just barely make out Pawlowitz's figure as he crunches through the snow and into the wilderness.
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Tracklist: Shed - The Praetorian A The Praetorian