Redshape‘s music is at its best when it balances obviousness and subtlety. The German musician’s last album, Square, felt like an exercise in the latter, a detour away from the floor-friendliness of his debut, The Dance Paradox. Pulling back to accommodate a more open-ended approach, Square‘s heavy atmospheres laid over the rhythms like a thick fog, and only the album version of previously released tune “The Playground” had the first album’s visceral traction. Red Pack II applies the energy of those earlier tracks to a more stripped-back set of sounds, with hints of Square‘s alienation.

Unlike the insular Square, Red Pack II could be mistaken for someone else’s work at a few points, although these situations don’t last long. “Path (Dub)” channels Chain Reaction–style dub techno, though it subtly alters the formula: the expected metallic, bouncing chord setup is enlivened by a harsh, jazzy cymbal and a prismatic, faintly audible run of marimba notes. With its staggering-colossus kick drum, Redshape joins the industrial-techno fray on “Daft Mode”—though some sampled dialogue from Tron keeps it from taking itself too seriously. “Bulp Head”‘s prickly, slightly off-time MIDI loop is a burst of tonal color on the record, which on the whole is monochrome by Redshape standards. “Bulp Head” and the closing “Path (Original)” would be strong enough to carry the EP on their own, but the restraint of the previous four tracks have set them up to have a awesome impact. Where Square felt like a soundtrack where each song served a specific scenic purpose, Red Pack II‘s tracks contain multitudes.