Shed, one of a small clutch of contemporary producers willing to push the boundaries of techno, returns with his second album The Traveller. His debut opus Shedding The Past was rightly lauded upon its release in 2008, and is regarded in many circles as one of the best electronic albums of the past decade. Since then René Pawlowitz has released material under various guises, ranging from the club friendly WAX series to atmospheric dubstep as Panamax Project. On first impression, The Traveller sounds like a love letter to UK club music wrapped up in a German techno album – nods to hardcore, drum & bass, jungle and dubstep are all present and correct. Moreover, there’s also an inescapable feeling that Pawlowitz actually had fun making this.
The tone of The Traveller ranges from moody, delicate interludes to proper Berghain tackle (“M R Class’s” seriously thumping dubby vibe being a prime example), but with only one track breaching the five minute barrier this is definitely not an album aimed at DJs. A raw drum pattern juxtaposed against a Jean Michel Jarre inspired synth line makes “Atmo – Action” an intriguing prospect, while the twinkling keys on “44A (Hardwax Forever!)” give way to a distorted, unannounced drum frenzy that will scare the shit out of you if you are not ready for it (you can almost see the grin on Rene’s face when he was making this one). “Final Experiment” is reminiscent of the recent Actress album on Honest Jon’s, all compressed bleeps and sonic squiggles submerged deep beneath layers of compression, presented in sketch form rather as a fully fledged song. “Hello Bleep’s” cheeky “Spastik”-esque drum roll leads nicely into album closer “Leave Things”, which itself finishes with an old school jungle flourish that cannot help but raise a smile. Never has techno been so much fun to listen to.