Xhin Sword

Xhin Sword
Singapore-based producer Lee Xhin makes his full-length debut for Germany's Stroboscopic Artefacts with Sword. Those familiar with Aphex Twin's early work will find some textural similarities; Xhin favours the same style of bit-crushed percussion and glitch-infused features for his take on IDM. The metallic tinges of melody in "Teeth" stand out on the higher-tempo end of Sword, demonstrating the busier side of the album. After a brief experimental interlude ("Insides"), the release changes direction with "Wood," a magical work of soft arpeggios free of the distortion audible on the majority of the tracks (a theme revisited in closing number "This is What You Drew While You Were Half Asleep"). The production quality is high, with Xhin prefering the experimental side of IDM ― relatively minimal melodic content is found throughout. The atonal qualities of "Vent" combine aspects of straightforward techno with Xhin's IDM tendencies, creating a work that sounds more suitable for play at Berlin's Berghain, when compared to Sword's other tracks. The high-frequency bite of many of the cuts, while never overwhelming, grows tiresome on the ears by the end. Sword is head music, and while it may not be a first choice for a relaxing listen, it certainly stimulates the brain. (Stroboscopic Artefacts)