Purity in music isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact what art tends to strive to achieve in some sense is a form of purity. A directness in terms of communication of human feeling and emotion that transcends the physical form or sound vibrations of the picture or piece of music for example. All musical genres and sub genres have their (often disputed) pinnacle acts/artists who embody and define a form of music to such an extent that they actually transcend the genre, occupying a superhuman space in musical culture that most mere mortals can only dream of attaining.
Sequitur, the new album from Kranky Records electronica artist Steve Hauschildt, certainly has a strong sense of musical purity running through it. It is an album that (from the sounds of it) was made entirely with electronic instruments and follows many well trodden paths in terms of composition and texture. From the Kraftwerk-esque vocoder work of ‘Constant Reminders’ to the Blade Runner soundtrack-aping ‘Vegas Mode’ and ‘Accelerated Yearning’, with simplistic, minor key analogue meanderings being heavily reminiscent of Warp/Rephlex ambient acts such as Luke Vibert, Sequiter is an album that’s been composed with a very strong sense of its lineage within electronica as a whole. However, where the great mavericks of the genre separate themselves from the rest is by finding a unique angle and a way to push technology to the absolute limit and, by the sounds of things, Hauschildt is yet to truly find his own voice.
Sequitur is by no means without its charms. ‘Kept‘ is my personal highlight with its fragile elegance and intertwining, rushing drones it evokes a powerful sense of wonder and yearning. Similarly ‘Steep Decline’ has a happy/sad chord progression and lilting turn of melodic phrase that recalls the atmosphere and heartache of vintage Sigur Ros. Album title track ‘Sequiter’ puts me in mind of Just Music ambient maestros Digitonal with its bubbling arpeggios, brooding synth string patches and subtly dense filter work.
‘Mixed Messages’ is pure Radiophonic Workshop electronica. Starting with a stuttering synth rhythm and building layers of swirling, analogue ambience with strident, stirring melodies, it’s beautiful ear candy. One couldn’t possibly fault the production values of Sequitur. Everything is played and mixed seamlessly and the synths sound immaculate. ‘Interconnected’ is a playful take on the blueprint laid down by Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume 1 via some atmospheric, breathy pads that wouldn’t sound out of place on Brian Eno’s Music For Airports.
Sequitur feels very much like a whistle stop tour of the history of ambient/electronic music. Not necessarily a bad thing but it would be great to hear Hauschildt employ the same high standard of production and sonics and simultaneously take some creative risks and find his own voice within the genre. A voice he touches on with the expansive, visionary drone piece ‘Kept’.
6Sebastian Reynolds's Score