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Their production moniker may sound like a Czech grandmother muttering words of disapproval into a bowl of soup, but on this debut LP, Swedish duo SHXCXCHCXSH ladle out a dose of severe atmospherics that displays a cohesive and bold narrative drive. Riding on a low-end, smokestack rumble, the seven tracks here manage to evoke audio memories of both jitterbug post-punk — namely in a Suicide-esque melodic scratchiness that is never permitted to resolve itself — and a hypnotic, rolling techno that makes their debut LP a perfect fit for Avian. It is in the many oblique angles, however, that the duo makes their disquieting presence felt to greatest effect. “LDWGWTT” is a case in point. Circular synth squalls and strangely human noises sound alarmed, and deep under the pulse it sounds like some kind of distress call, so much so that I had to remove my headphones a couple of times to check nothing untoward was going on outside. It connects on that subliminal level of palpable unease without resorting to schlock tactics — genuinely creepy.


“WHTLGHT” is a straight-ahead pound in the current techno vein, but underpinned by urgent white-noise palpitations like Morse code being transmitted into the ether. It’s an interesting sensation — a DJ tool that constantly shifts the parameters. “PCTSTSS” is one of the seediest techno cuts you’re likely to hear this year, sultry drones concealing all manner of weird wood-block patterns underneath the throb. Not all is quite so noir, though; “LLDTMPS” is a relatively funky detour that hinges on a dark, electro bass line alongside Mills-esque synth and cymbal work that takes you out of the laboratory and into orbit. While Avian bosses Shifted and Ventress are no strangers to the clammier corners of techno, STRGTHS represents perhaps the most uncomfortable music they have put out on the label, though it is by no means an exercise in wanton darkness. Rather, SHXCXCHCXSH have sewn together a compelling excursion into the wilder excesses of mauve techno adventure.

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