Under a Single Banner

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This second album from mysterious British techno artist Shifted is also the first full-length album release on Bed of Nails, the noise techno label run by Dominick Fernow, aka Prurient. It's a much more conceptually focused album than his 2012 debut, Crossed Paths, which, while single-minded of purpose, had the feeling of being simply a collection of tracks. Insistent, hypnotic, sparse, and understated, it felt rather Germanic, with lots of Detroity bleeps as well, and while some tracks were underlaid with beautiful ambient textures, the industrial feel was minimal. Under a Single Banner is an altogether different proposition. This new album sees Shifted immersing himself much more fully in the nascent early-2010s noise techno scene -- having quite possibly taken influence from the noise tendencies of his friend Sigha, with whom he runs the Avian label -- though it is still a far cry from the truly punishing textures being meted out by the likes of Prostitutes or Pete Swanson. It has the same dank, haunting atmosphere as the first album, but with a much more organic sound, warmer somehow, giving the sense that primarily analog gear has been used. The production is also much better -- thicker, gnarlier, oilier. The rattling chain noises, howling voids, and enveloping sub-bass of dark ambient make the occasional appearance, and the rich, complex sound design even brings Monolake to mind on a couple of tracks. While this is undoubtedly a techno album, heavily percussive and containing at least a couple of certified dancefloor juggernauts, it's as least as much, if not more, about atmosphere, which it delivers in spades. It's one of the best examples so far of this style, seamlessly combining elements of techno, noise, and dark ambient, and comes highly recommended to connoisseurs of all three genres, as well as to those interested in exploring the fascinating new directions electronic music is taking in the early 21st century.

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