Shed's 2010 long-player The Traveller wasn't so much about refining techno as purifying his approach to sound in general: more a Funktion-One calibration tool than a proper dance record, the album—obsessively detailed as it is—makes almost no sense over headphones and positively scoffs at your laptop speakers. But when experienced optimally, at earsplitting levels in a big room, you can almost hear the air molecules around you wheezing exhaustedly when the needle hits the runout.
If The Traveller was an exercise in whatever lies between sorcery and R&D, then "A100," René Pawlowitz's first release under his alias of the same name, is the shiny, showroom-ready build-out of that heady prototype. Merging The Traveller's razor-sharp sound design with Pawlowitz's knack for anthems, it's the hungriest he's sounded in a minute. The title track kicks off with a cavalcade of percussion so dense, it's not immediately clear there'll be room for any other sounds in the mix. But a wisp of sweet melody—the smoke from a smoldering Boards of Canada record, perhaps—manages to break through the cracks, and it turns the producer's timbral micromanagement into something almost cuddly. The beats depart for "BER," leaving a chord progression sure to set the heart of any 808 State fan aflutter played by synths so noisy they sound diseased. Compositionally, "Bypass" veers toward Pawlowitz's purpose-driven (and admittedly less adventurous) EQD or Wax material, but sonically, he's in no way letting the soundsystems of the world off the hook.
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Tracklist: The Traveller - A100 A A 100