Given the credentials behind Shifted Phases, it would be unfair to dismiss the project as one more entry in a long line of Aphex Twin imitators. Even so, you could probably fool some folks into thinking otherwise if you slapped a sticker on the front of The Cosmic Memoirs of the Late Great Rupert J. Rosinthrope
and tried to pass it off as another in Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works
series. Indeed, tunes like "Dance of Celestial Druids" sound like they have Richard D. James's digital fingerprints on them.
But Shifted Phases is no follower of the many-monikered James; it's another nom de plume for the duo behind influential experimental Detroit techno crafters Drexciya, who released music throughout the mid and late '90s as part of Detroit's Underground Resistance collective before signing on with Berlin-based Tresor.
Cosmic Memoirs offers a full slate of four-on-the-floor dance music with varying degrees of IDM dressing. The record's focus is solidly on the beat, but while the rhythm can get aggressive ("Waveform Cascades"), it never approaches the punishing beats of Shitkatapult's T. Raumschmiere or other Berlin outfits. Shifted Phases' fidelity to the beat carries through even in the melodic elements of the compositions: bass lines, bleeps and washes of electro-noise all serve to move booties and nod heads.
For the most part, melodic elements are relegated to back seat status, as in "Freak Show", in which the roller-rink organ is buried in the mix and the bass line, while prominent, leaves a wide margin for the beats to work in. "Implosive Regions" touts more pronounced melodic elements, but the big 2/4 beats are clad in a big wet reverb that gives them extra resonance and helps them stand at the front of the mix.
Slavish dedication to the beat is what sets Shifted Phases apart from Aphex Twin. While Aphex Twin experiments with varying degrees of layering and levels of sophistication, Shifted Phases makes certain to serve dance floor devotees first and foremost.