Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Steve Hauschildt. S/H

Steve Hauschildt.  S/H.
Editions Mego, 2013.  Steve Hauschildt:

I very much enjoyed Mr. Hauschildt’s work with Emeralds and his previous two solo albums, and was pleased to be offered the opportunity to review this 2-CD collection of mostly unreleased pieces. The works are divided chronologically, with the second disc containing material composed from 2005-2009, and the first holding more recent material.  Perhaps this is intended to show the development in his compositional thinking.  In total there are 38 tracks, ranging in length from 1 minute to more than 16 minutes.  Some are full-blown conceptual pieces, while others seem more like ideas for future reference.  I am highly linear in my thinking, and so I shall begin with the second disc.

A few of the pieces here have been previously released on cassette tape or CD-R, but none are easily obtainable, and so it is a wonderful idea to place those compositions here.  Some of these were edited or re-recorded.  It is on this disc where we see the greatest range of variation, from short to long, and from simple to complex.  It is difficult for me to discern whether some of the short pieces are complete, or whether they were intended as elements of larger works that were never finished, or if they were simply experiments that were put aside.  Most are fascinating regardless, although I prefer some pieces to others.  A few, such as “Rapt for Liquid Minister,” “Red Corridor,” and “Hemero” are somewhat harsh drones, with insufficient variation to hold my interest, despite their brevity.  Others are lovely works that slowly unfold their shapes, or reveal themselves as aural collages.  I highly recommend “Passing Cars” for its sonic washes and percussive effects that ebb and flow through the 7-minute piece.  “Different Directions” plays with the “ping pong” effect of stereo to offer a lively work that sounds like a series of jaw harps with piano background melody that then morphs midstream to swooping synthesizer, then back to piano (I use the term “piano” only in terms of its sound, rather than the instrument itself).  I also enjoyed several of the short works.  “Jovian” is a highly melodic piece, string-like in atmosphere, increasing in intensity until its fading resolution.  “OCR” is more percussive in effect, overlain by washes of sound.  “Portal” sounds more like celestial harps, with droning effects ebbing and flowing.

The other CD, of newer material, contains fewer long-form compositions, with 9 of the 21 works tracking at under 3 minutes.  If I venture to guess, I would think that these are mostly experimental pieces that inspired works on his two solo albums, or for some reason did not make the cut.  Each piece seems to be a separate work, and I can detect no particular theme in the sequence of tracks (except perhaps the “Liberty” trio).  However, each one is a fascinating soundscape, different in tempo, style, and atmosphere.  Pieces I particularly enjoyed include “Thumbprints,” a soft, glistening work where percussive effects are slowly added and removed; the very organ-like “Uncanny Valley;” the calm “Enter Return;” the friendly outer space twitterings of “Dream in Dial-Up;” “Auto Mile,” which feels like a late-night drive through that section of town; the “Liberty” trio of pieces, which have a lovely cinematic quality; the dirge-like unfolding of “By Buildings;’ and finally, “Still Cloudy,” which reminds me of Northeast Ohio.  Other listeners will find their own favorites.  The sound on this CD is better than the other, richer and more full.  I believe I shall find myself returning more often to the first CD than the second.  I find it consistently excellent.

I enthuse too much, and have gone on longer than my editor wishes, and so I shall finish by recommending this album to all who enjoy Mr. Hauschildt’s music, and to fans of electronic music anywhere.

Personnel:  Steve Hauschildt (synthesizers, electronics).
Tracks:  CD 1: Poinsettia, Galloping, Thumbprints, Uncanny Valley, Dimmer, Enter Return, Familiar Scene, Dream in Dial-Up, Flatbed Scanner, Ampersands, Auto Mile, Liberty I, Liberty II, Liberty III, Intimate Yell, Seabreezes, Flyswatter, Screenburn, By Buildings, Vox Ulterior, Still Cloudy.  CD 2:  In the Waves, Coming into View, Jovian, Venn, Star Map, Backwards Glance, OCR, Rapt for Liquid Minister, Portal, Critique of the Beautiful, Hemero, Hiccup, Verbatim, Red Corridor, Passing Cars, Different Directions.

Gottfried Klaas

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