Sunday, April 24, 2016

Steve Hauschildt. Where All Is Fled.

Steve Hauschildt.  Where All Is Fled.

I came home last week after a hard day/hard month, and sorted through the pile of CDs that needed to be reviewed for Buzzard Tracks. I was looking for something that was different, and something that would give me a break from everything I didn’t want to think about. I chose this, not randomly, but not really deliberately either. When I put it on, I was transported, no joke. The music is joyous, quiet but exhilarating, and damned near left me weeping because it was what I needed to hear at that moment.

This is Hauschildt’s third solo release, if you don’t count his compilation, S/H. We’ve reviewed three of his four albums here at Buzzard Tracks, and would be happy to review everything he puts out, forever. Not to say he can’t make a mistake or release a turkey, but I haven’t heard one yet. This album may be his most accomplished so far, a combination of many different kinds of sound, from synth washes to orchestral instrumentation to natural sounds blended into soundscapes that are simultaneously surreal and very real. The sound is quite different from his previous album, Sequitur (2012), with a darker tone, an emphasis on pulse rather than beat, and a move toward a richer, more symphonic sound. The fourteen tracks are quite varied, as if one is moving from dream to dream, each a delight in its own way.

The opening track, “Eyelids Gently Dreaming,” is a great example of this move towards a different sound. The music progresses in a drifting manner, shifting from one plane to another smoothly before fading. “Arpeggiare” makes a different statement, with rapid pulsing featured over a piano melody. “A Reflecting Pool” is what got to me, with its evocation of water dripping and rippling. By the time of “Edgewater Prelude,” the shortest track, I was completely lost in the sounds Hauschildt was producing. I found “In Spite of Time’s Disguise” delightful, a synthesizer melody drifting and morphing through a tangle of washes and pulses. Several later tracks such as “Caduceus” and “Sundialed” take a more insistent approach with strong, rapid beats. The title track is near the middle of the album, and sets provides a soft piano melody against a variety of background sounds.

As one might tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this excursion into ambient electronic music that Steve Hauschildt does so well. You can partake of this as music alone, or with accompanying visuals on YouTube--they are stunning creations.

Personnel:  Steve Hauschildt (electronics and other stuff).
Tracks:  Eyelids Gently Dreaming, Arpeggiare, A Reflecting Pool, Anesthesia, Vicinities, Edgewater Prelude, In Spite of Time’s Disguise, Where All Is Fled, The World Is too Much With Us, Aequus, Caduceus, Sundialed, Lifelike, Centrifuge.

Jeff Wanser

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Ohio Weather Band. Crooked Light.

The Ohio Weather Band.  Crooked Light.
Self-released, 2016.  The Ohio Weather Band:

The Ohio Weather Band continues the success of their first album with this new effort. We reviewed their first album in 2014, and found it to be quite enjoyable. Sophomore slumps are legendary, but they don’t seem to have succumbed to the ailment. A little more ballad-heavy than the first album, songwriter Corey King is getting more deeply into his lyrics with good results, occasionally heading for Bob Dylan territory, and not being uncomfortable there. This album in a way is a showcase for King the singer-songwriter. Musically, lots of other comparisons are more appropriate, ranging from Mr. Gnome to Stealer’s Wheel, which just shows how eclectic they are.

I tend to gravitate toward uptempo songs, and so will concentrate on those, but the ballads are also very good, and here is where King shines lyrically. They range from the desolate (“Ohio Weather”) to the quasi-religious (“Fate is a Man”), to the obscure (“Sunburn”), with none in the land of the joyful, although that may just be my interpretation. Tunes are generally simple, but sweetly played, and they've grown on me with repeated listenings. Most slower songs clock in at more than four minutes, while the faster tunes are over in a heartbeat.

And those faster tunes are where the band comes in strong. The opening track, “Boardwalk Act,” is a tuneful, rambling song that sticks in the ear. “Messenger Bird” effectively uses echo and interesting chord changes to evoke mystery, reminding me of an old tune, “Spooky,” by the Classics IV (although the song is about something else entirely). “Zeros” moves towards an insistent, bluesy rock, with some nice guitar work and good harmonies. “Advice” recalls Dylan sensibilities combined with Stealer’s Wheel quirkiness in a curious amalgam that I find very satisfying.

I enjoyed listening to this album and look forward to the group’s continuing evolution. The band is in town right now, having just toured key cities in the south, and at the end of the month they’ll be headed for New York. Catch them when you can.

Personnel:  Corey King (guitar, vocals), Derek Strata (bass, vocals), Ray Lumpp (keys, vocals, accordion, percussion), Pete Childerson (drums, percussion).
Tracks:  Boardwalk Act, Messenger Bird, Ohio Weather, Barflies, Zeros, Waitin’ Like a Canine, Advice, Purple Polished Nails, Sunburn, Fate is a Man, Ohio Weather (reprise).

Jeff Wanser