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Violetshaped / Shapednoise
Violetshaped / The Day Of Revenge Maya Kalev , April 18th, 2013 06:00

There's certainly no dearth of high-quality noisy techno out there at the moment, and Violetshaped and Shapednoise join the ranks of Diamond Version, Emptyset, Pete Swanson, Vatican Shadow, Prostitutes and Ancient Methods with a brace of cerebral, harsh, techno-indebted records, Violetshaped and The Day Of Revenge. The similarity of the two names is no coincidence: Shapednoise is in fact one half of Violetshaped (the other being Violet Poison), an enigmatic duo who run the wax-only Violet Poison imprint. Little else is known about either of the two, except that Shapednoise is Italian and that both are based in Berlin. That mysteriousness never feels like a tacky marketing ploy, though. Rather, it's of a piece with the penumbral and bleak music they produce, both as a pair and solo.

Seething froths of noise and heavy thumping club vibes – and the word is applied loosely here, as this music best suits the kind of club that's little more than a basement with a sound system – are the order of the day on Violetshaped. It's split over two records, its two halves quite discrete: the first is more industrial and beat-driven, while the second trades in more obscure, eerie atmospheres. Theatrical shrieks that reveal a fascination with classic horror film tropes pierce the insistent techno thump of 'The Lord Won't Forget', and similar motifs are deployed throughout the record to chilling effect, such as the horror film samples, malevolent rasps and echo chamber scrapes that punctuate 'Down Regulation''s squall of gritty noise. The skeletal kick on 'cX310' is buried deep under layers of scratchy, hoarse noise, while 'Anaesthesia' is a fitting closer, all synth swoops and a greyscale sawing sound that drills deep into the skull.

If Violetshaped is a collection of excellent tracks united by an atmosphere, The Day of Revenge feels more fully conceived as an album proper, with a gloomy, portentous introduction and ambiguous, prickly close. Shapednoise samples a spoken passage – presumably from a film – on opener 'Transcendental Experiences', which builds slowly from a simple, reverberating, cavernous kickdrum into a chilling tale of prematurely born twins, one of whom dies. The bald line "she did not make it" dissipates into a wash of sputtering noise, sparse snares and industrial clangs, and we're left none the wiser as to the fate of the other baby. Both this track and 'Pleasant Euphoria', the only other track to contain a vocal sample, are the most overtly cinematic tracks on Day Of Revenge, which eschews the melodramatic horror of Violetshaped in favour of indeterminate dread.

Ominous propellers twitch over booming slabs of noise in 'As Others See Us'. Meandering synth lines poke through the noisy fuzz, and disarming chunks of noise swell into a morass and recede into discrete sounds on the beatless track 'Atomic Theory', which is all bumpiness and craggy textures. Though they're well accomplished, more interesting are 'Imaginary Duplication''s exploratory synth noodlings and the crunch-and-burble of 'Maschinenbau', which recall early electronic artists like F.C. Judd and Suzanne Ciani. 'Maschinenbau' means 'engineering' – an apt title, as Shapednoise is concerned less with conventional composition than with the fundaments of electronic sound and its productive process, though that's not to say Day of Revenge lacks atmosphere.

Violetshaped is more techno-oriented, while Day Of Revenge is closer to experimental noise and computer music - indeed, the tendency of those genres to complement one another probably goes some way in explaining the two albums' kinship. Both producers' refusal to remain shackled to one set of generic parameters marks them out as interesting talents in an area where the bar is already set very high.