It was hard to put one's finger on what Downliners Sekt was up to on last year's Trim/Tab EP, which seemed to take bass-music tropes down the path of molecular gastronomy. It never seemed to calm down enough to settle into a groove, and its vocal samples, though familiarly sourced, were arranged in a spooky and carnivalesque geometry, as if taking shots at each other from across the room. The appeal remained very much of a piece with, say, music along the lines of Skynro's; its pulses of sub-bass were like a lover's irregular heartbeat, something to be both concerned about and validated by. Balt Shakt finds the Barcelona duo smoothing the wrinkles out somewhat, but the music retains an arty gloss. It's counterintuitive, but there's a kind of self-awareness here that never stoops to impose a remove.
As with Trim/Tab, Balt Shakt is composed of two untitled sides. The sound is comparable to Djrum's excellent Seven Lies LP from earlier this year, if that album's already soggy bottom end just gave way and the contents tumbled out. Downliners Sekt's strength, and this variety of bass music's secret appeal more generally, comes down to its constant—and impressively indistinct—switching between smooth and fractured sounds, which results in a musical nest of crossed anxieties and satisfactions. Side A encapsulates this quality, with Downliners Sekt overlaying a weirdo, pushing tech-house beat with wilfully out-of-time clangs, and then pushing even further to net a couple of cosmic melodies hummed out by e-bowed guitars. The clomping b-side is a hungry ghost of a house track, conjuring a scenario wherein Burial has been tapped for Clone's Jack for Daze series. Balt Shakt and Trim/Tab show that Downliners Sekt has a way of making music that's as cracked as it is deep.