Redshape is someone who excels in both the long-player and single format. The last two years have seen him focus on the latter, stepping out of album mode to craft raw and rugged rhythms for 3024, his own Present label and Gerd Janson's Running Back. As was the case with 2009's The Dance Paradox, though, Square sees the masked one rein himself in and take a longer view over the course of 13 tracks. In isolation that means each is often less immediate and arresting, churning to life slowly and purposefully or simply wallowing in pity for their entirety. But when compounded, the sum total is a typically filmic and fine-grain opus laden with industrial romanticism.
Square in fact feels like a world where machines go to rest and rust, with a thick fog hanging heavy in the air. Despite such an evocative sound signature, underlying grooves are never too obscured, their laboured mechanics pulsing below the drama above. True to form, said drama is often culled from retro sci-fi-sources—a dark male voice speaking of chaos and confusion, a breaking thunder cloud or the distant coos of alien life.
Redshape doesn't overload his soundscapes: each element is drawn out over the course of a track, slowly shape-shifting and dynamically evolving. But Square is still an album of peaks and troughs. Just as the rising ethereal jangles of "Atlantic" take you up, the hopelessly melancholic and beatless synth sinews of "Orange Clouds" take you right back down again. Masterful tracks like "Moods & Mice" have a devastating finality to them: smeared synths spread out behind broken drum patterns and slapping snares, while "Starsoup" has pixelated and ramshackle keys tacked onto a deeply subterranean thud.
Few producers make such explicit industrialism sound as sweet as Redshape—for every whirring machine and grinding gear, there is a bittersweet counterpoint lurking elsewhere. More so than on The Dance Paradox, beats often desert tracks altogether. (What might have been) segue-style skits turn into three minutes of escapism or, in the case of the title track, glow white-hot before fading to bird song. Although things finish with a new version of 2006 classic "The Playground," the original wouldn't have sounded out of place, suggesting that rather than learning a new language with each release, Redshape instead seems content in merely tweaking the conversation. And when it's still this involving, who's to complain?
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Tracklist: Redshape - Square 01. The Channel
02. It's In Rain
04. Orange Clouds
05. Moods & Mice
09. Enter the Volt
10. Until We Burn feat. Sapce Ape
12. The Playground