Skip to main content
A Magazine for

The Manchester edition of Now Then is no longer publishing content. Visit the Sheffield edition.

John Shima CPU Modular 1

Take one small box of musical kit, a dare and a talented Sheffield techno producer and you've got the combination for a kicking four-track EP that demonstrates how less is sometimes more.

Released: 20 May 2022
CPU Modular 1

Messrs Shima and CPU label boss CP Smith have been crafting their own futures for techno and electro out of South Yorkshire since they first fell madly in love with the infamous bleep sound at the turn of the 1990s.

They finally came together on Smith’s CPU imprint after a challenge was thrown down to Shima to produce a record with nothing more than a small modular synth. Fast-forward several months and the results are a quartet of fresh, honest, no-nonsense tracks.

For Shima it’s a step away from his intelligent techno home planet, a place where he has built up a notable reputation as a producer and DJ. Instead, the result is a stripped-down return to the source – a dancefloor sound. The Sheffield influence, which isn’t always obvious in Shima’s productions, is more apparent here, as is that edge that was often found in early UK productions. With titles such as ‘003’, ‘010’ and ‘011’, one wonders whether there are other tracks in that sequence that didn’t make the cut. Either way, this is a very high bar.

There are brief phases where a track strips back to just the drums and we’re taken to some 1987 Chicago warehouse party to jack our bodies into a hot lather. ‘011’ is the stand-out track – straight to the point, no messing about, hypnotic, acid-infused groove.

This shows that, in the right hands, limiting yourself to one bit of kit can return marvellous results. In this case (excuse the pun) it was Smith’s own Doepfer A-100P6 suitcase. ‘010’ is closer to Shima’s usual sound, but still quite different from previous productions and largely estranged from the typical CPU output. On this evidence, we await further transmissions from Planet Suitcase.