A year after their much-praised debut album STRGTHS, Avian's cryptic Swedish duo SHXCXCHCXSH are ready to present their second album, Linear S Decoded, this August. From the elegiac opener Entering The S-Cloud, the intensity of tracks such as Elocution and Rudimental Retreat, to the disorienting beauty of Wading Guise and aptly-titled closer Monolithic Conclusion, the LP deftly broadens the scope of SHXCXCHCXSH's singular aesthetic.
Keeping their mystic aura has always been important to SHXCXCHCXSH - so important they didn't want to take part in what they deemed 'the language game' until now. Their previous strict use of fragmented track titles illustrated an ideal of communication purely through music, to service the focus on sound via complete abstraction. Breaking the habit with Linear S Decoded doesn't necessarily indicate a complete break with their approach, but an adjustment to the direction they have travelled since they first emerged two years ago.
As Resident Advisor identified in a perceptive review of the previous LP, among SHXCXCHCXSH's key strengths is the imbuing of their productions with a narrative sense, a sonic progression that moves beyond techno's standard repetition - it's an element of their work that's heightened further on Linear S Decoded, pulling focus from the more grinding, brutalist elements of their distinct sound to reveal the more melodic, almost optimistic, elements that had previously remained in the shadows of the productions until now.
The track titles themselves are evocative about the new record whilst revealing few specifics: no less intriguing than the clustered consonants of the prior release titles, hinting at deeper underlying narratives at play, possibly historically informed, or a fiction of the duo's own making. Either way, definitive answers will not be forthcoming: the mysteries that lay beneath SHXCXCHCXSH's approach to music making have long been an intrinsic part of their appeal. Linear S Decoded presents