A b o u t s h h h . . .
The latest album by this Portuguese act takes a step forward in sound electronically speaking, with an array of fluttering broken beats, feedback, raging drones and obscure ambient electronics. Rui Bentes has always tampered with obscurity in his tenure as this project, but for me, this latest output grasps an element of control in how each individual part equates to the greater sum.
Careful application and placing works well with the format of vinyl, providing a concise and enjoyable affair that feels immediate; and never outstays its welcome. A heavy soundtrack vibe permeates this latest affair, which is somewhat assisted by the dense production; constantly providing a soft underbelly pads and reverberated beats scarred by sharp electronics. There is however, the odd smattering of aggression on ‘I of the Storm’ to keep any listener on their toes, providing a necessary break when things slow down.
As such, there is enough peculiarity on this album to keep older listeners happy, whilst reaching out to fresher ears with an expanded palette of complex electronics and newfound maturity.
“Finally we're experiencing "Simulacra" remixed by Shhh... which concludes the album in a quite fascinating way, juxtaposing classical Ambient / Chill Out structures and layers of Industrial Noize to a great effect.”
"The work of shhh… is just as great and amazing in its quality content than the musical partner that it had been so successfully partnered with. The music however is of a complete different order as there is no spectacular passage of young spirits haunting this side of the floppy diskette, but it is more of a beautiful stereo work that feels like a certain feeling of belonging and waiting for something. This might be perhaps a strange description, but let me try to explain it more visual wise how this track (whose name is ‘liberation of a city’) sketches a imagine in my mind as a frequent listener.
It is like a part of an American road trip movie in which the night has set and the character has settled itself down in a road motel in which the lights are shimmering and red and the outside streets are wet from a previous rainfall. I see a character sitting on the bed made up by hotel room staff that never changes the laundry next to a lonely cupboard with a phone on top. A shadowy figure waiting for the phone to ring, perhaps from a troubled citizen that needs help in saving the city from its lockdown on freedom. In fact the shadowy figure who has a low profile in the track might be someone’s alter-ego; a superman, superwoman, batgirl, batman, x-men, x-woman or just someone waiting for a call from someone he or she loves.. It’s all up to your own imagination I guess."
A música é eletrónica, como já devem ter percebido, ainda que com grande presença de guitarras, ora surgindo na evolução do chamado rock pós-industrial, ora configurando-se na área do experimentalismo digital surgido nas margens do techno.
Tudo começa com um bang. As batidas são fortes e o carácter obsessivo, maníaco mesmo, mas a intensidade inicial vai-se esbatendo ao longo da audição. Quando chegamos ao fim de cada CD, predominam a abstracção e o pormenor. Primeiro vem o grito, depois o murmúrio… Faz lembrar um pouco o que aconteceu com o 25 de Abril, certo?
Ou com o Maio de 68 em França, lembrado no volume 2 com a utilização, em jeito de spoken word, de declarações dos estudantes revoltosos e dos governantes que os reprimiram com cargas policiais.
Uma narrativa compilatória muito diferente do que ouvimos na última edição do francês Franck Vigroux, «Prisme», em que autênticos murros percussivo-computacionais no estômago se intercalam com abismos de silêncio, num sobe-e-desce de tortura.
Ou de «Geometry of Chromium Skin», produto da colaboração dos igualmente franceses Le Syndicat com gente nossa do Porto, Sektor 304, ou seja, André Coelho, João Pais Filipe, Gustavo Costa, Henrique Fernandes, Manuel Neto, Antónia Reis e Ruelgo.
Neste último caso diferente porque eles nunca se calam, nem sequer para ironizar. A coisa é extrema, sanguinária, com blocos de ruído e ritmos alucinantes. Não vale a pena dirigirem-lhes chius. Eles não vos ouvem, e mesmo que ouvissem não queriam saber.
O Rui Shhh Bentes seguiu outra estratégia: olha para o dedo diante da boca e diverte-se connosco…
... su belleza visual es perfecta para resaltar la impresionante y admirable calidad musical contenida en su interior. Tres excelentes temas donde el talento de shhh… emanará de estas obras directamente a su mente para invitarle a un disfrute emocionalmente intenso lleno de metafórica esencia vital. Una realidad existencial compleja y semitraslúcida que está caracterizando a esta centuria, y que, en “Afterglow”, adquiere esa tonalidad sonora de innovadora inspiración donde las fronteras de lo experimental siempre quedan traspasadas bajo la influencia de estilos musicales como el noise o el industrial. Tres temas compuestos por Rui Bentes, alma mater de shhh…, donde el talento y la genialidad quedan grabadas en estas estructuras sonoras cinceladas con la energía de la vanguardia y con la insatisfacción existencial aplicadas al Arte de la Música.
Unusual, brilliantly constructed and utterly compelling, the world of Rui Bentes is awash with colour, life and inspiration. Over the course of just three tracks Shhh… are capable of drawing you into a whole new world and if this is any indication of the larger work then there is no doubt that the coming album will be a work of staggering scope and vision. In the meantime this will whet your appetite and, hopefully, encourage you to return to previous works such as the monumental ‘Sleeper has awakened’ (a collaborative effort reviewed here) in search of further wonders.
Seppur in piccola dose, "Afterglow" offre un ulteriore saggio della maturità del suono di Shhh... e delle capacità del suo fautore, abilissimo nel delineare scenari ritmico/sonori emotivamente consistenti, strutturalmente efficaci e creativamente intriganti. Da seguire con attenzione.
Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi
A remix of ‘The Thief’ opens up this EP with gusto; distorted beat with proper grinding, slick bass lines that ultimately smacks of originality. Whilst most artists approach their work firmly from an electronic perspective, Shhh… dares to tamper with analogue intersections that are now assisting the project in labours that could make it stand out from the crowd.
‘Inside Every Storm’ and the title track follow, heading off down pathways we have heard before from this artist, but with a wider horizon in mind. Masses of swirling ambient and machine-head hums swirl and rattle against each other, whilst brief encounters with beauty seep through the cracks. It’ this new found attention to detail that was missing from previous works and paves the way for the next full-length, that could prove to be quite special should it be an expansion of this current form.
From the get-go we get good. Very good.
The farting flapping bass in "Junk Kick Baby" is just what the previous self-titled release was missing. Some serious chunk. "Conflicts and Resolutions" gives us more of that and then some. The chaos (conflict) underlying the calm (resolution) is awesome. Nothing I like more than a healthy dose of cacophony. "July 16th" features a nice droning crescendo. What is this? Dynamics in electronic music? The choice of samples is nice. Obscure stuff, not the usual lines from fashionably off-center Hollywood movies that so many other artists give us. "Weak Signal" is a good example. Actually, "Weak Signal" is an awesome song. Lo-fi radio, white noise and whale calls intermingled with spastic percussion. Love it. Even when Mr. Bents turns towards the ambient, he does it tastefully. Normally, ambient music makes me want to point a gun into my eye. My only complaint is the cameo appearance of that fake vinyl crackle sound that sucked even when Portishead did it. Overall 'Low Lights' is a major improvement over Shhh?. Much more depth in tone, and some teeth-gritting-till-they-chip nastiness that all good experimental stuff needs. This is some sophisticated power noise. Tell yer friends; I already told yer momma.
‘Low Lights’ had me intrigued from the packaging alone. The digipak is wrapped in a type of glass paper; excellent, although I am sure this is going to be a nightmare on the shelf next to other releases when it tears their covers to bits. Nice. ‘Junk Kick Baby’ is an improvement on the last release all on its own; the hook ridden grinding bass line is excellent over the subtle power noise rhythms, but should have been used a lot more; although redemption does come in the form of some crushing trademark break-beats. ‘Conflicts and Resolutions’, is an upbeat surging blast of wire electronics and feedback that crush away over a simplistic rhythm and utilises a power electronics ethic. This clever mash of styles is one of the more effective tracks I have heard from this artist throughout both albums and shows a genuine flair for mixing genres. Another element of ‘Low Lights’ that makes it stand out is the knack of switching at will from ambient to all out dance-floor power noise, as the dramatic change over between ‘Slow Room’ and ‘Weak Signal’ attest to.
7/10 | 7.5/10
This album is ancient history. 2005 was a completely different era. I think we were still using flip phones. Certainly Google-ability wasn't on our minds (go ahead, try it and see where the band comes up). Regardless, Shhh? is the metal detector's gold coin. If this release was lost, I'm pleased to have found it.Standard fare here. Aphex Twin meets Terrorfakt. Nothing new (course not, its 7 years old) but what is here is solid and enjoyable. The opener "Don't Panic" is way cool. "Les Americaines" is nice and dreary. "Mathematics" gets an emphatic "fuk yeah" and "Twist and Wait" is a standout.
I am a fan. I just wish it had a thicker/fuller palette. There is so much crunchy goodness here, but no creamy filling or thick and chunky topping. Also, it's a bit too cerebral at times. Could use a dose of hate and hell. Some good ole fashioned spleen. That said, Shhh... has already burned a hole into my head. It is in regular rotation in my library. I look forward to a new release.
A b o u t T h e S l e e p e r H a s A w a k e n e d
Just as the opening beat of “Kill Me First, Fast And Again” begin to sound laboriously mechanical, The Sleeper Has Awakened unexpectedly tear their momentum into shreds. The first couple of minutes heave and ho like the hydraulics and weighty impact of industrial routine, lumbering between beats like a robot on unswerving onward march. Out of nowhere, the music floods open into delicate acoustic fingerpluck and babbling vocal samples, reducing rhythm to a simmering bitcrusher hiss before bringing it crashing back into life with an ominous urgency. They sound like angular stylistic turns, but TSHA expertly manoeuvre them into very natural arcs; not rendering transitions predictable exactly, but certainly providing ample forewarning.
It’s densely layered stuff, and arguably reaches excess at points (inundations of pinch harmonics, glitch beats, babbling intercom, trickling water), but the sheer eclecticism of the resultant musical landscapes makes the intricate detail worth the effort more often than not. Particularly engrossing is the juxtaposition between organic warmth and aggressive electronic elements, like the boisterous processes of a factory displaced into a lush and vibrant natural setting; bold, rectangular blocks of grey stranded within a personable, emotional warmth.
Flanged synths, steady beats and flamenco guitars are the opening gambit to this three track EP that suddenly smash together into a dense atmospheric soundscape of Industrial tinged psychosis. There is something genuinely original in the mix that I applaud and that is the variety of styles that are bravely patched together to make ‘Kill me First, Fast and Again’ an excellent introduction to this artist.
The Industrial tear up travels further onwards on track two, ‘(Scenes From) A Silent Light’, which blends distorted rhythms, obscure electronics and chimes, with torn apart vocal samples and harmonious natural bass. Once again there is a fair blast of originality that courses throughout that I can’t quite put my finger on. ‘That Close’, continues with gentle flanged guitar lines and samples with gliding atmospherics that once again kick off at the mid way into a barrage of torment, with the beats kept low so the analogue sounds tell a story all of their own.
I was really surprised by this unassuming release that says more than initial impressions give on its rather drab packaging. The true magic lies in that once you have listened to it, the temptation is there to press play once again, upon which you find other new layers and avenues that you didn’t witness upon first listen. I would like to hear a full length from this artist soon, although I hope my expectations have not been set too high.
So much of music journalism seems to be about defining the indefinable. Finding suitable adjectives, metaphors and similes to somehow bring to life the intangible and impossibly subjective is a difficult task yet one that is ultimately greatly rewarding. The cover of the sleeper has awakened depicts a crudely drawn screaming face peering out from the monochrome world it inhabits. It is an apt depiction for the music that lies within – distortion-laden, electronica / post-rock that sits somewhere between Ulver, Mogwai and Aphex Twin. Brief, but impossibly atmospheric at the same time, this is an EP that those with an eclectic taste in music will be keen to hear.
With three tracks clocking in at a total of fifteen minutes, the first track ‘kill me first, fast and again’ is without doubt the most effective because it is unexpected. Opening with gentle chimes a huge electronic beat comes crashing down amidst layers of distortion and an increasingly agitated melody line. Disembodied voices echo through the blackness, what may or may not be the heavily treated sound of a guitar adds depth and power to the composition and the effect is rather like being caught in the sights of a Sunn 0))) remix album. It’s a remarkable piece of work that is utterly absorbing – so much so that you yearn for a longer whole. ‘(scenes from) a silent light’ is a softer piece – almost early Pink Floyd at the outset (think ‘Ummagumma’) before a skittering beat comes marching, ant-like across the surface, all the way towards a thunderous bass that finally appears to stamp out all the light generated by the early portions of the track. The soundscapes are fascinating, almost impossibly dense and layered, and as the track accelerates to its conclusion you realise you’ve become tightly enmeshed within the band’s dreamlike world. Final track ‘that close’ opens with a scratchy, distorted voice and languid guitar lines echoing from out of the depths. The somnambulant pace combining the sounds of pastoral progressive music, life support and ambient-style drums (think The Orb at their most obtuse), it is gentle and eloquent which makes the dénouement, with its paranoid guitar line and stuttering, overloaded electronics all the more harassing.
This is not a record that will appeal to a wide audience, but it deserves to be adored by a manic few who appreciate the dark wonders the EP has to offer. So many influences whirl across the soundscape that it’s hard to pin down any one thing, but what is clear is that for the musically open-minded this will prove a treat indeed. Highly recommended.