Shuttle's debut album, Visione, was grim by comparison. Resident Advisor's Paul Clarke described it as "nightmarish," "sinister" and "ferocious," none of which applies here. Systhema has a meditative feel, with lots of billowy space and cottoned sounds. It has an affinity with the Artificial Intelligence series, without the '90s trappings and few of its banging moments. The agitated "Eris" will immediately pique the interest of a Warp fan. The tunnelling ambient techno of "Olga" may have you longing for a beanbag.
The mood on "I Fail. You Fall." is closer to that of Visione, in that it's dark and unsettling. It's also one of the album's few clubby passages. "Con Sequenza" is another, but its bloops and microsounds are more hypnotic than propulsive. It hones in on the details instead of getting swept up in the dance, something "I Fail. You Fall." encourages so effortlessly.
But Systhema isn't really for dancing—it's for reclined appreciation. Its best pieces are the experimental bookends, starting with the warm drone of "Adrift" that's doused in Middle Eastern mystique. The windswept "Thebe" sounds similarly well-travelled, and has some of the record's most interesting sound design. It again demonstrates Shuttle's mastery of eerie melodies. "Ende" concludes as a thunderstorm rumbles in the background. Have we ended up in the tropics? Systhema often conveys the transportive, mind-expanding properties of Shuttle's music, which can take you to some far-out places.