The Praetorian Guard was Caesar's personal security force in the old Roman Empire. Before becoming Emperor, one had to attend to the issue of the Praetorians, who were war machines, perfectly trained and, most of all, loyal to the one who paid them. The Emperor put his trust in them, as his life depended on them, and since then, the term “praetorian” has been applied to anyone who never betrays an idea or a person, whatever the circumstances. It's no coincidence that René Pawlowitz baptised his new track as Shed “The Praetorian” (his first in over two years, not counting his releases as Wax and EQD): his techno has become increasingly pure, experimental, escapist, refined, and less influenced by other genres. When everybody thought his signing with Fifty Weapons would result in brutal and dirty dance floor material, Shed did the complete opposite, delivering two pieces of almost liquid, disintegrated techno, refining the Detroit and Berlin influences from the early nineties.
“The Praetorian” is built on a slight break, a porous bass line and a synth line that wraps around it, making for a weightless piece of techno that loses itself in the distance, like a comet going past our orbit. It couldn't be simpler, and at the same time it couldn't be deeper and, well, better; it's perfect techno as a concept, not as a sound. On the flipside, “RQ-170” does the same thing, only with a sound leaning on British intelligent techno of the Warp variety, citing one of that style's emblematic tracks, Autechre's “Second Bad Vilbel”, and with a title reminiscent of early Aphex Twin. Because the B-side of this breathtaking new Shed single could be a lost track by Richard D. James from his “Selected Ambient Works” era. With works like this, with results like these, it's obvious Shed will never betray techno. The praetorian title is well-deserved.