Living somewhere between Noise, Drone, Ambient and Techno, the sound of Shifted is one of the peripheries. Whether the peripheries of genre or of industry, they are largely unexplored spaces of contemporary electronic music.
To truly understand such spaces, they can only be experienced; felt through tangible engagement with production and performance. And, on Saturday, 17 December this will be the case as Shifted joins the third edition of Black Rhino Residency at Control Club.
As a label head, his Avian imprint has released cutting-edge yet unclassifiable areas of lesser-explored sounds since 2011. As a DJ, his sets are careful preparations of patience and consistency. They focus on texture and tonal finishes rather than hands-in-the-air moments or stage theatrics. These hypnotic and dynamic explorations draw the same tensions as his production work, of which Constant Blue Light is but the latest long player.
Early in his career, Shifted (real name: Guy Brewer) was part of the go-to drum & bass duo, Commix. But since a mainstream disillusionment in 2014, he has forayed into the grimmest and most greyscale of techno. It is a sound best represented (and explained) through Constant Blue Light, his fifth studio album under the Shifted moniker. Immediately drawing mental imagery of society's ubiquitous screens, Constant Blue Light is an exploration of the daily grind rather than the nightclub. Shifted, however, describes it all as exploring "caustic minimalism" - corroding the final realms of the dancefloor in favor of introspection. The result is a refined representation of a trademark sound honed across releases and output on labels like Bed of Nails, Pacific Blue, and Luke Slater's Mote-Evolver.
Finding a perfect home on Avian, Constant Blue Light sees a continuation of Shifted's more atonal output on Hospital Productions. As an album, Constant Blue Light's framework can be found in its opener as it immediately dives into the repetitive glitch of Slowly Counting Backwards. Both immersive and meditative, Slowly Counting Backwards puts you in its place, and the rest will not allow you to leave. But there are more than simple glitch loops to be found here. Natural Elevation, for example, hisses and bends like an algorithmic serpent slithering across industrial flooring. Then, The Weight of It hypnotises in its own way with the most sparse of beats - an atmosphere of gloomy timbres ensues. However, the b-side opener, Soft Palette, does kick Constant Blue Light into a bit more traditional territory, albeit nonetheless ominous. Its steady percussion and slightly faster BPM's add energy not found yet. Then, Into Your Ocean paints with a sonic palette of upper register FM tones, while Several Instances sees the opposite; a dense low-frequency montage of white noise.
As Constant Blue Light approaches its conclusions, the atmosphere gets thicker, the sound gets gloomier, and escape from its grip is futile. Clotting Time and Standing Water introduce new machinations before Tradecraft offers the album's most distinct beat patterns. Finally, as Constant Blue Light closes with the pellucid This I Know, we realise that our journey has been just that, a journey. And one that could only be guided by Shifted.