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Shit & Shine
Joy of Joys Daniel Hignell , February 2nd, 2024 10:24

Fifteen short but perfectly formed electronic vignettes raise a smile, for Daniel Hignell

Wielding a distinct person-fucking-around-on-a-modular vibe, the horribly monikered Shit & Shine offer a surprisingly playful take on modern synthesis. Words like ‘bubbly’ and ‘fizzing’ spring to mind, those near-edible adjectives sown awkwardly to music way too often now taking a rather visceral turn. It’s slightly silly stuff – stuttering oscillators bit-crushed to oblivion – yet revelling in a minimalist, solitary charm, as if someone deleted half the stems at the last minute.

Joy of Joys feels like an album of interludes, concerned more with juxtaposing buzzing drones and digital yelps than in any real structure. Imagine, if you will, a work of experimental techno with the drums removed, leaving behind only textural synthesis, alien decorations that now litter a vacant lot.

On some level, Shit & Shine are channeling the sort of post-techno, undercooked dance music found on the last couple of T.Gowdy albums, yet managing to eradicate the rather dull necessity to be something anyone would actually want to dance to. Instead of reducing their sound world to little more than a murky kick ad Infinitum, they focus instead on the leftovers, the emphatic mumbles and stalling motor of some untethered pulse wave hovering over its absence.

Shit & Shine stand out from a crowded field by avoiding being either too nice or too abrasive – the tracks bristle with aliasing and distortion, glitch and decompose – but never with the sort of performative, macho anger inherent to so much post-rave electronic music. Abstract voices come and go, belayed by sounds of some obfuscated, mechanical source: as likely to be field-recordings of someone fixing an elevator, or getting electrocuted, as they are industrial invocations upon a synthesizer. With most of the albums fifteen tracks clocking in at under the two minute mark, there is little room – nor need – for exposition.

These are belligerently fragmented minor studies fixated on some crumb of sonic interest, presented one glitching, down-sampled voice at a time. Whilst no doubt named with no small amount of irony – especially given the albums rather grim palette – Joy of Joys nonetheless embraces the more playful aspects of its nature. In a world drowning in seemingly endless releases of ‘experimental’ music, it is indeed a veritable to joy to find one that wears that badge with such unadulterated pride: less an album than a disparate collection of short, solitary experiments.