Shift – Ruminations 10”ep Unrest Productions 2016
Uncodified – Maybe All Is Not Completed CD Unrest Productions 2016
Shift’s ‘Ruminations’ ep was first issued in 2015 in an cassette edition of 100 copies on DumpsterScore, but in my estimation this was far too few copies given the quality of the release. Luckily the project had the same view with it being reissued on vinyl via their ‘home’ label and in a larger edition of 205 copies.
Following on from the monumental ‘Altamont Rising’ album from 2014 ‘Ruminations’ features around 20 minutes of material over two lengthy untitled tracks. Noting that Shift’s sound has evolved over a number of releases to gradually step into more aggressive power electronics territory, ‘Ruminations’ continues this evolutionary process. So whilst Shift’s trademark laborious layering again forms the general approach, here the layering is also used for maximum dynamic impact.
Track 1 quickly beds down a number of loops to provide basic structure which set the scene (i.e. idling machines, slow metallic thumps, loop of a youth yelling something unintelligible etc.). But things REALLY kick in when the distortion flayed vocals arrive (mixed prominently upfront), followed by yet more sonic layers of what can only be described as ‘jet engine’ powered distortion. As such the layered elements are gradually added which slowly build the track to monumental proportions and then sustained for the remainder of the piece. Likewise with its multi-layered approach the sound is thick and loud where each layer is clearly balanced within the mix to create a colossal sound. Track 2 then side steps the direct power of the first side somewhat by being a touch more subdued, although the sound still maintains a crushingly heaviness. As such the piece is constructed around intertwining queasy ascending/ descending atonal analogue drones, coupled with a slow rhythmic thud whilst the roared/ distorted vocals sit more to the centre of the mix (…yes, another great track).
It seems Shift are really going from strength to strength which is evidenced by the gradual refinement and honing of their overall approach towards more aggressive power electronics realms. Although being characteristically of the sound which can be recognised as that of Shift, the increased urgency and aggression of these tracks really given it a more focused and direct impact. Thick vinyl pressing and double sided cover rounds out the physical packaging. Recommended.
Moving on to Uncodified, this solo project of Corrado Atlieri has been rather prolific since 2011 (19 releases and counting – with a number being splits or collaborations), with ‘Maybe All Is Not Complete’ the latest full length album.
8 tracks spanning 40 minutes are featured on the album which very much constitutes direct and clinically tinged industrial noise and ‘instrumental’ power electronics given the distinct lack of vocals. Buzzing and burrowing mid-toned frequencies swarm alongside micro-tonal textures and further coupled with basic rhythmic structure and whipping static etc. These varying elements are then assembled through layered mode of construction which provide further form and direction. As such it is the sonic layering, tonal separation and the panning of sound between speakers which adds to the general complexity of the material on offer. Although much of the sound is loud, sharp and in most part clinical, there is also a coarse underbelly of corrosive scrap metal racket and hollow tonality, of which ‘Deception’ and ‘Overhead’ are particularly excellent examples of this duality of sound. The final track ‘The End Is Never One’ delivers quite a sonic surprise given it approaches ‘heavy electronics meets dark ambient’ territory, and with its melancholic drones and layered sweeping windswept textures it is a serene and contemplative conclusion to the album.
When compared to the last solo full length ‘Hardcore Methodology’ from 2014 (reviewed here), this new album has a far greater degree of focus and urgency, which has consequential elevated its sonic impact. A simple black and white 4 panel digi-pack rounds out a ‘no frills’ but expertly executed album, which very much suits and fits within the sound and attitude of the expanding Unrest Productions roster.