Shawn O'Sullivan is a prolific analog fetishist, one who's previously released full-bodied, exploratory techno on WT Records and also paired with L.I.E.S. affiliate Beau Wanzer for a throbbing 12" as Civil Duty on Anthony Parasole's The Corner imprint. His devotion to modular synthesis, however, avoids devolving into rudderless esotericism. Marking the first release by an American on Shifted's and Ventress' Avian label, O'Sullivan's EP under the name 400ppm upholds his reputation as a reliable producer of droning DJ tools.
Opener "Non Nocere" (Latin for "do no harm") does more damage than its title would suggest, unfurling sheets of confrontational noise. The harsh environment seems to reflect the conceptual background of O'Sullivan's 400ppm alias, which ostensibly refers to the 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, a threshold passed for the first time in recorded history this May. Shifted's own bleak dub influence is evident on the belligerent "Occupational Synthesis" and O'Sullivan makes it a one-two punch with the galloping, acidic "Lean Manufacturing." These are tracks clinically maximized for the dance floor, but contain enough sonic depth to warrant attention regardless. "Monoculture" is a welcome relief with its vast pathways of open space—an element that is lacking elsewhere on the EP—but "Evitandus" crushes any expectations of a calm ending, with corrosive alien wails and beatless clatter. The environment appears to be approaching a point where sustaining humanity will be an issue, and if this EP is any indication, O'Sullivan isn't looking on the bright side.