Driftmachine - Shunter - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Driftmachine - Shunter

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2018-06-15
Driftmachine - Shunter
Driftmachine - Shunter

Berlin-based duo Andreas Gerth and Florian Zimmer have released their fourth album under the name Driftmachine, and Shunter is a solid set. Wandering somewhere between ambient and IDM, they paint a variety of creepy vistas over seven tracks, spanning underground lairs, desert wastelands, and outer space voids.

The first four tracks seem to be something of a suite, falling under the names 'Shift I' through 'Shift IV'. There is a thematic continuity across the songs, even as it creates its own unique sense of place. 'Shift I' builds an utterly alien atmosphere, a shadowy place on a planet across the galaxy, where old machines burble and choke as they struggle to function. It's a bit disorganized, with odd organ pads moaning in the background while strange klaxons ripple through the foreground. It's not the most inviting introduction, but it sets the stage fine. 'Shift II' is when the set really elevates itself to a higher level, with ancient, creaking structures groan with age before an ultra-deep bass makes you realize you're at the bottom of the ocean. Luckily, before things get too claustrophobic, a light, soothing melody floats through, reminiscent of some of The Orb's earlier work on perhaps U.F. Orb or Orblivion. It's absolutely seductive, entreating your mind to drift away in a timeless abyss, and one of the highlights.

'Shift III' has more clanking machinery in its opening, but sounds more like an abandoned warehouse, and brings to mind late 90s Autechre, with liquidy chains being dragged through muck. It's a bit slower and sparser, and not as engaging, though still interesting. 'Shift IV' is like standing on the edge of a space station staring into nothingness. It's very empty, but also very big, like the sounds are echoing back from impossible distances.

'Blind Signal Box' is like a many-faceted gem slowly spinning in blackness, sending off bizarre rainbow flashes in all directions that pass by in slow motion as you fall down and down and down. 'Congé' sounds like a Morse Code transmission from the other side of the galaxy, or like tinkling drops of rain, but undergirds itself with a deeply unsettling bassline that makes my skin crawl in a good way.

Final track 'The Plans Were Never Accomplished' is pretty epic, clocking in at over eleven minutes. It starts out sounding like being chased by a surveillance drone through a shadowy nighttime forest, a clickety clackety synth spiraling overhead with a heartbeat-like pulse underfoot. A disturbing alarm explodes and then everything sounds like doom, a series of one tense vignette after another, with worrisome modulations that strike fear into the pit of your stomach. It's by far the most challenging track in terms of mood, and a nightmarish conclusion for an album that is normally more spaced-out than haunting.

Still, this is a great album overall. More than anything else, it's profoundly evocative, as the best experimental electronic music should be, and also feels like a journey, as good ambient music should. This is a must-hear set for anyone with an affinity for IDM, ambient, electronic, or weirdness in a more general sense.

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