As both artist name (Hidden Rivers) and album name (Where Moss Grows) indicate heavily, this is music deeply rooted in the natural landscape. Refreshingly however, Huw Roberts (the man behind the project) understands that that doesn’t have to mean an acoustic folk-fest: instead he deploys mellow electronics for his explorations.
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This washed out ambient record makes me want to speak entirely in river based metaphors. Ian’s suggested I describe it as estuaric, a word we’ve termed for music that sounds partially enclosed by naturally formed rivers that can flow happily into the sea. And that’s what I think this record is: its synths are understated and welcome in calm waves, but with the drum machines propelling, it sounds like we could get to the sea yet.
Hidden Rivers is the alias of Huw Roberts, an artist who sounds infatuated with IDM, drone and raindrops. This record is upended by strong walls of ambient but uses a haze of twinkling synth melodies and programmed percussion to differentiate parts of its humble landscape: a lot of ambient music makes you think of the pretty countryside, but this record describes it in detail, building with a light touch a la (who else) Boards of Canada. More than that, though, the work of Josh Mason comes to mind, particularly ‘The Symbiont’, a record which counterbalanced droning figures with little but all-important modulations in sound.
What you basically need to know is that ‘Where Moss Grows’ is a reliably gorgeous record, and that it establishes a type of pastorality that isn’t restricted to traditional folk music. We know by now just how open and countrified electronic music can sound, but with this Roberts has managed to personify bits of sound: a shakily sustained chord can sound like rushing wind and a stray synth note can sound like a droplet in a river. Great musical symbolism, Mr. River.
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- Where Moss Grows by Hidden Rivers
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