After spending six years with synth-pop band Soft Metals, Ian Hicks has resumed his solo career. With VIY he has explored the weirder, darker areas that synth music can take you to. Hicks reconfigured his equipment as he recorded to create different sonic textures whilst taking in the influences of horror, sci-fi and the burgeoning synth scene in Portland, Oregon. Cassette only, limited to 50 copies.
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- VIY by Ian Hicks
7/10 Laurie Staff review, 08 September 2016
Not the same Ian Hicks as Baron Mordant, this other Ian Hicks is half of Portland OR darksynth duo Soft Metals, now releasing his first solo thing by the looks of it. It’s a little tape on Clan Destine full of big hissy synth ‘n’ drum jams that sound twisted, alien and often actually upbeat at the same time.
A lot of it pays homeage to the late 80s industrial sorta sound, when it was fusing with electro and techno, so heavy on the deep 4x4 drum machine grooves with minimal melodic bleeps and maximal mind-control synth noise aplenty. The jams are long, perhaps a little too laboured, but the sounds are pretty great, super lo fi even before being buried in the tape saturation. I think it’s the second track that’s really uptempo and banging, but the third takes the 4x4 kick and slows it down to a murky plod. Dark shit.
Strictly for the bedroom curtain-closers.
9/10 Ant Staff review, 08 September 2016
I’m not gonna lie; I’ve never paid much attention to Soft Metals but this here tape by Ian Hicks straight blew the lid off my dome. I realise swearing ain't big or clever and shows lack of vocabulary but opening tune ‘Cede To A Rival’ is fucking immense. It’s like some sleazy New Beat track beamed into the future, proper sweaty, narcotic techno with a fine balance of dark and light - you’ll hear angels and demons. ‘Repression and Rectitude’ continues the momentum - deep, trippy and melodic with a proper gnarly bassline. ‘Extracted’ works a bleepy melody over f/x processed vocal snippet, sizzling synth, stomping kick and 808 cowbell, brewing into some gurgling acid. ‘Find Inside’ has me whizzing on a merry-go-round, hallucinating church bells chiming and shattering into pieces. ‘Valentine’ is a lovely, dare I say sexy techno/ house hybrid like a more psychedelic Basic Channel with a bassline that’s makes me think of a stoned version of Jeff Mills ‘Step To Enchantment’ played at half speed mixed with Substance & Vainquier’s Chain Reaction classic ‘Emerge’. Closing track ‘False Awakening’ brings ecstatic waves of euphoria. Reminds me of something that could have come out on Belgium’s Antler Subway or Target Records labels circa 1989. There is no higher compliment.
This tapes sounds like it was custom built especially for my own ears. If I won the lottery I’d press up a zillion copies and give one to every man, woman and child. Can’t wait to hear more from this guy.
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