The Killer: not quite the killer techno dub experience it should be

Shed, The Killer, 50 Weapons, 50WCD08 (2012)

Well you wish this could have been the soundtrack to that John Woo film of the same name that starred Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-Fat in which he and another guy as mafia hit-man and maverick police officer respectively engage 300 gangsters in a church and demolish them all including the church. Shed aka Rene Pawlowitz probably wishes so too but as that movie was made so many years ago, he settles for a soundtrack of dark dubby techno to an imagined nightmare future world in which robot police stalk the streets 24/7 looking for anything that faintly smells of sedition and millions upon millions of humans huddle in fear in their panopticon polis spread out over a flat land where once giant mountains and deep canyons existed but were equally razed and raised into a massive monster megalopolis. “The Killer” is at once gritty, distant, cool, blissful, abstract and heavy in its rhythms, like a darker and more detached cyborg version of Actress or Vladislav Delay without the warmth and optimism. In parts it approaches the heavy dub of Techno Animal and its short-lived side project Sidewinder.

An early highlight is “I Come By Night”, combining an insistent jungle-beat machine rhythm with a constant flow-n-ebb of needling acid shower and wonky metal bell tinkle and malfunctioning screws in the background. By contrast, “Gas Up” is a delicate and blissed-out dreamworld of revolving flute-like angel drone over light and fragile hiss.

Less appealing tracks like “Day After” are very repetitive and simply emphasise the fact that all tracks here are basically rhythm-texture pieces that really don’t go anywhere; as long as they sound good or original, then that’s fine but if not, then that’s a bummer with this recording and many others in this genre of heavy dub techno. Generally the more atmospheric, dreamy and blissful pieces like “Gas Up” and “The Praetorian (LP mix)” are the best part of the album; the latter track in particular feels very much like angelic digital ectoplasm shower falling on us as grace for believing in this genre of techno. Several tracks feature hissing and buzzing drones reminiscent of massive hordes of robot bees released each day to spy on human activities and record them for the benefit of the overlords governing the city.

It is uneven and at times not nearly as sharp, rugged and tough as it should be in sound and attitude; I think if an act like Actress were unleashed on these tracks to remix them, he’d inject something sassier and more knife-edged into the music. Overall “The Killer” is a pleasant techno dub experience.

Contact: 50 Weapons