The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Different Selves Maria Perevedentseva , November 30th, 2015 10:12

Nino Pedone – aka Shapednoise – has accumulated an enviable discography during his relatively short career. Previous releases on Hospital Productions, Opal Tapes, Stroboscopic Artefacts, Russian Torrent Versions, his own Repitch and Cosmo Rhythmatic imprints, and now Type Recordings have cemented his reputation as a stalwart of the noise techno genre. His second album, like many second albums, seeks to extend his self-erected boundaries, and Different Selves is certainly his most abstract and punishing work to date. Whether this abstraction is successful in the context of the album is a question that will be left open.

There is a high incidence of musical quotation at work here, but this is not mere pastiche, rather a sign that the genre has reached maturity. Hearing Vladislav Delay's 2014 album Visa in 'The Man From Another Place', the shredding of Emptyset's 'Recur' in the aptly-titled 'What Is It Like', the microscopic finesse of the Haxan Cloak's 'Consumed' in 'Dream Within A Dream', and Kerridge's 'MPH' in 'Intruder', provides a useful network of references, something familiar to cling on to in a release so determinedly devoid of hooks. The sound design of Different Selves is undeniably flawless, and in a recent interview with XLR8R, Shapednoise suggested that he has been trying to conceive music in visual terms. The album as a whole seems to be crying out for live A/V treatment in Berlin's Kraftwerk, where the combination of the space and the soundsystem would make for a truly magnificent performance. On the other hand, individual tracks like the acrid, grime-smeared masterclass in beat-making that is 'Heart-Energy-Shape' would sound equally at home in a DJ set in a dank Stoke Newington basement.

Domestic listening is probably the one setting in which Different Selves shows weakness. The album is long, clocking in at over 50 minutes, there is a drastic shortage of pads, and instead of light, an almighty black hole to look forward to at the end of the tunnel. There is also a slight top-heaviness in the mix which makes even the most abusive passages sound shallow, thereby lessening their physical impact – something which, in its power to transport the listener, is arguably more important at home than it is in a club, where physicality underwrites the whole experience and the sound can be tweaked to tailored perfection. The beguiling opening track, which features Justin K. Broadrick of Godflesh fame, is an exception to the previous statement. It displays an adept sense of proportion, its massive soundscape breathes, its tectonics rumble, and it labours over one idea throughout, whereas some of the other tracks rupture and lurch without closure.

It is the beats that really make this album. Pedone's work was already highly accomplished in this regard, but in Different Selves they have evolved into a more complex and savage form. In a track like 'Well-Being', the icy, satanic gusts of static can only be understood as such through the brutality of the bassline, which situates the listener somewhere in the vicinity of the seventh circle of Inferno. Whereas in some albums of the genre, the smattering of 4/4 can seem disposable, Shapednoise lets it be known that it is the beats that unleash the emotional potential of the other elements, and in so doing brings Different Selves out of the underworld and onto a more resonant plane.