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Xhin 'Sword' [SACD002]

Stroboscopic Artefacts on January 10, 2012 11:00

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Xhin's debut album on Stroboscopic Artefacts, 'Sword', showcases the breath of his vision. As the second full-length release on Stroboscopic Artefacts, 'Sword' stretches the remit of the label's identity ever further.
Produced and recorded in Singapore, Xhin plucks sounds from the outer edges of electronic music and fuses them together. Xhin's approach revels not only in a hybrid sound palette but it's also an album designed for multiple contexts. It’s a record typified by duality. Xhin's process seamlessly traversed analogue and digital production, and 'Sword' harbours electronic music that ranges from brutal club sounds to deep and delicate murmurs.
It's clear from the way the album is crafted and layered that Xhin is a skilled sound designer. The tracks seem to have been worked on from a 360o perspective. His muse? The void. But rather than soundtracking the abyss, 'Sword' is a strategy, an attempt to negotiate a way out. Part of the answer that he proposes abandons the shadowy recesses of melancholy in search of the ecstatic. 'The Secret Closet' depicts a dream state in frosted tones and icy ambience that is returned to again with the discordant jangles of 'Inside'. 'Wood' picks up the motive once more. At the kernel of 'Wood' is melody that Xhin composed on the piano and then digitally processed into a state of bliss.
However, 'Sword' refuses to languish in a romantic hinterland and the ambience is off set by aggressive, weighty cuts. 'Fox and Wolves' is Xhin ripping into any nostalgia that opening track 'The Secret Closet' promised. Equally 'Teeth' gnashes and writhes over a bed of deep beats. 'Vent' is fortified with metallic rasps and built from the droning aggression that characterized Xhin's early Stroboscopic Artefacts releases. Even at its darkest, its most violent, 'Swords' envisions the club as a place of refuge. Proposing a collective acknowledgement of the void, where dancing fends off its grip, and realization is paradoxically escapist.
'Sword' could not be more aptly titled. Xhin creates allusions with track titles that snatch images from a post-modern fairytale: woods, wolves, foxes, wardrobes. Xhin appropriates the fairytale hero's sword and the weapon becomes symbolic of a struggle, a tool against the void. A way out of dystopia. Journeying to the crispy cusp of experimentation and musical questioning, 'Sword' is one of those rare creations that emerge when a producer has absolute artistic freedom. The 10 tracks navigate parallels and paradoxes allowing Xhin to cut a deft mark across the album format.

Mastered @ Artefacts Mastering, Berlin.

Words: Clare Molloy

Released by: Stroboscopic Artefacts
Release/catalogue number: SACD002
Release date: Nov 11, 2011

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