Indeed, the first six minutes of Crossed Paths begin in the form of slowly intensifying drone with "Yearning," but it's a captivating sort of drone, particles of decaying synth catching fire and yielding greater flames as they smolder with digital distortion. From then on we're flung deep into the bowels of fire and brimstone beats: "Out of Tune" is like being thrown through a gauntlet of melting walls and twisting tunnels, while "Bleeding Through" has chords and strange percussive accounts that sound like the machines that are making them are gurgling up corrosive acid. The bangers, like the Planetary Assault System-esque "Leather," are lent even more power when every sound seems to carry with it an entire universe of minute ambient detail, drums that throb with an immeasurable, almost supernatural impact.
That detail seeps into every aspect of Crossed Paths, whether it's in the sound design or just the structures themselves. "Coax" spends its first three minutes as a thickset slab of thrumming drone, but the simple addition of a hi-hat brings the tune to life vividly, one of the album's most viscerally thrilling moments wrapped up in a single high-frequency click. It's a surprisingly delicate and attentive dimension that allows Crossed Paths to sidestep the techno-album-dilemma and function both as a collection of standalone club tracks and an engaging play-through, because even at their simplest (the disorienting strobe of "Suffocate") these tracks are complex enough to stand up to a great deal of close-listening scrutiny.
Back around the time of his debut Drained, Shifted seemed part of a wave of new(ish) UK producers—Sigha, Furesshu, Truss—who were bringing techno back to the slate grey skies of the British Isles, but doing it via a sound distinctly indebted to Berlin. By this point they're no longer the new wave, they're just part of modern techno's fabric, and Crossed Paths feels like a clincher for this particular generation. Shifted no longer appears as an outsider trying his hand at techno but a veritable heavy-hitter, and even if at over an hour it can be a little tiring, not many techno albums have tried so admirably to strike a balance between the bedroom and the nightclub without sacrificing what makes either great. For an artist who I once criticized for a lack of distinction, Crossed Paths sees Shifted aggressively coming into his own.