Reviewed: Rösten

Words on contemporary releases. Seeking to offer an honest description of works which manage to exist in their own space and time.

Rösten full label review

Reviewed by Pietro Negri

After witnessing their live act for the first time in Nijmegen about a month ago one thing became even more clear: few underground techno artists have created a style as unique and personal as SHXCXCHCXSH. The mysterious Swedish wizards remain concealed behind hooded cloaks on stage which aptly matches the darkness and depth of emotion captured in their releases as well as their breath-taking live sets. The popularity of their last LPs Linear S Decoded and SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs, both released on Avian, show just how much the experimental exploration of the duo’s persona is emphatic. SsSs and their remix of Positive Center’s Hiding Knives (on the debut EP of the In Silent Series label) perfectly exemplify what is so particular and stunning in their tracks: harmony. Both in dark stripped down beats or rumbling 4/4 drum patterns the light is always present.

All that has become synonymous with SHXCXCHCXSH’s essence has been translated into the first two techno releases on their new label, Rösten. The debut EP opens with Stämma 1, a raw, grainy and seemingly unchanged 6-minute track that lays the foundation for the gritty nature of this series. From the first few seconds, Stämma 2’s ambiguity is an immediate mesmerizer. The mysteriously disturbing 4-note melody of what is audibly an alien form of communication is ominous to say the least. Stämma 3 kicks off with a distorted thumping beat but quickly becomes ritualistic through enchanted choral voices. Stämma 4 reinforces this divine aspect recurrent in SHXCXCHCXSH’s style through a deep menacing prayer that both enlightens and frightens.

The tone remains pervasive throughout Rösten 2: obscurity and distortion contrast with divinity, almost giving a feeling of reflecting the inner duality of malevolence and purity. It also seems to follow a similar pattern as Rösten 1. Stämma 5 doesn’t progress in its core but its constant distorted groove is a pleasure on the dancefloor.  The second track, Stämma 6, is yet again the most frightening: creatures armed with holy, airy voices chant through distress and misunderstanding. Stämma 7 is a progressive sound byte straight out of a futuristic science fiction film. To end the series SHXCXCHCXSH tap into the innocent serenity of Stämma 8, a finale that fortifies how light thrives in darkness – a balance the duo perfects.   

Its first two releases managed to energize and intrigue whilst tapping into a blissful, ethereal corner of techno. With tracks fluctuating in a sea of gritty distortion and holy tranquility, there is a divine aspect of religiosity behind this appeal. SSTROM, one half of the duo who debuted on Semantica Records in 2016, is charged with Rösten’s third release titled Vitriol, set for January 31st. The dawn of Rösten is bright, and you can trust SHXCXCHCXSH to keep that light glowing.