The impossible-to-pronounce duo SHXCXCHCXSH have been a mainstay on the Berlin label Avian, releasing mouth-twisting classics such as RJRJRFFRJRJ and VVVLLLLVVV. They do have some “normal” sounding release names, but those are the exception. And anyway, you might be able to call them “shikashikashikash” or some similar variant in real-life conversation, and a bookish technoista might know exactly who you’re talking about.
Avian, run by Shifted, have been putting out long-burning tracks, mental marathons that are an acid trip riding the line between bad and good. Avian’s focus is narrower, and more potent because of it.
As well, SHXCXCHCXSH have their own label, Rösten, which also puts out techno by like-minded producers, including music by SHXCXCHCXSH member SSTROM, as well as two initial releases by the duo, Rösten 1 and Rösten 2.
Along with other recent Avian releases, the cover art for SHULULULU is an analogue-looking photo where lighting is not a means of focusing, but instead a way of framing mood. There is no warmth here, saving red only for the bottom right corner. The exclusion of details makes the mind wander to try and fill in those details. The lack of sensible meaning to these photos can make you seem foolish trying to come up with something. Maybe there’s nothing to make of it. Is there?
Like they say, nothing is scarier than not knowing what the monster in the movie looks like, or not knowing what exactly is just off screen. Maybe it’s not about being scary, or being dreadful, or whatever emotion evoked – its lack of details somehow amplifies the feeling.
In the same way, it is difficult to tell the narrative of SHXCXCHCXSH and their releases and their imagery, but that lack of narrative proves to be what makes it more and more intriguing. Typically, Avian releases come with a nicely written bio of sorts. Not this one.
It’s what makes UFO’s so interesting – the not knowing part. What is it about? Is this or is this not the end of all civilization?
With everything that we don’t know about this, we do know that SHXCXCHCXSH’s output has been consistently good. SHULULULU is no exception.
Here, the title track is almost twice as long as the others, though the duo have released music this long before. The four remaining tracks feel like harrowing vignettes compared to the quintessential Avian track, but they require no more than what they are. The EP seems to slip deeper into itself, a grooving, dark ambient downward spiral.
“SHUDUDUDU” is amazing, a seething and relentless thump surrounded by grit and hiss. A minor 7th slowly invades what’s left of the audio space. The grit doesn’t let up.
In the early Silent Hill games (maybe the later ones, too, but definitely in the early ones), the sound of radio static and dread crept up on you when something terrible was approaching. “SHUBUBUBU” is like that. There is no shortage of dread on this EP.
Sweden seems to have a history with dark music.