The Critical Music sub-label Systems is back, now on its tenth release with London-based producer Shyun. Throughout this series, Systems’ goal has been to showcase a far-reaching variety of producers, with each release ushering in its own sound, distinctive from those preceding it. Shyun’s four-tracker is marked by some of the hardest-hitting cuts to be dropped on any of Critical Music’s releases this year, while maintaining the nuance and quality which has kept the imprint going for 15 years.
“Digital Circus” opens the EP to the chatter of high hats and a whirring, rhythmic pad. It’s not long before a smattering of drones, whines, and a distorted, pitchbending reese fill out the soundscape. Before and after the drop, the song’s elements have a habit of fading in and stopping abruptly, over and over: It imparts a sense of urgency and unease throughout the entire track.
“Zigzag” is the second track of the EP, beginning with otherworldly pads which slowly fall in pitch through each measure. In time, a rhythmic vocal comes in repeating the song’s title, percussion is teased, and a hoover-theremin lead synth builds in volume. The drop reveals the tune as a slick halftime composition, replete with a deep, buzzy bass synth, a falling horn sample much like the pads from the intro, heavily-pitched vocals, and a reprise of the hoover-theremin from the intro as well. With the second drop, a heavily-reverbed lead is brought into the mix as well.
“Circles” sees a collaboration with Charli Brix in a sung vocal, perhaps the catchiest track of the EP. It kicks off with a set of murky, warbling pads and a pattering of foley samples, soon joined by Brix’s beautifully gloomy singing. The drop hits with a low, distorted reese accented by subdued high hats, a nice, low-key contrast to the rest of the EP.
Closing out the release is “Sentry”, a collaboration with UK producer Cruk. The track opens with a pulsing, forboding hum, accompanied by an odd assortment of echoing foley. What’s refreshing about this composition is that it doesn’t overhype its intro; the drop hits without building to a crazy amount of tension. When the track hits its stride, it sticks to a dark, minimalistic sub bass juxtaposed under a subtle buzzing textural synth. The percussion is particularly satisfying, as rhythmic foley hits play alongside subtle workings of high hats.
CRITSYS010 continues the streak of quality releases that Critical Music have curated for this series. Shyun does a laudible job of keeping all four tunes varied and sophisticated, thanks in no small part to a pair of quality collaborators. This EP should be an easy purchase for a wide variety of DJ’s.