Steve Hauschildt, formerly of synth-wizards Emeralds, is still going strong as a solo artist: this is his fourth solo record for the ever-excellent Kranky label. Strands is a particularly personal release for Hauschildt, as it engages with aspects of his Cleveland hometown. Expect all the graceful electronic pulsations you’ve come to love, arranged to perfection.
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In an attempt to match the popularity of his last record on Kranky Where All Is Fled, former Emeralds synthman Steve Hauschildt looks at ropes. That’s right, the inspiration for this latest one Strands is some rope. It’s easy to see the comparison with a bit of the ol’ imagination, the different electronic sequences of his tracks intertwining and unravelling in equal measure.
Steve, you weirdo. I think the idea was to make music that starts with a simple idea, take some wild twists and turns somewhere in the middle, before returning to that original idea towards the end. Like all rules of thumb, it’s partially bullshit, as the second track ‘Same River Twice’ spends all of its time bubbling at the same level, but it just so happens that the level is pretty damn fine. Analog phrases a la Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith skitter off into the distance while the pronounced rhythmic sequences of his last one sit humbly in the foreground. In fact, things get extra percussive on ‘Ketracel’, which is a haunting excursion into almost glitchy dub techno/idm aesthetics. That is, until this distorted wall of icy texture rises up to smother the melodics til they’re no longer relevant, vanishing into radio static to finish it off.
Of course, this isn’t Hauschildt being Lakker - a lot of the record is in chill mode. The expansive, R Plus Seven chord vistas of ‘A False Seeming’ shine while the still, restrained ambience of ‘Time We Have’ is content to glide through emotional tones while some very subtle noise fizzes over the top. ‘Strands’ actually sounds like Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm’s synthier collaborations of Trance Frendz, believe it or not.
While I’m sure Stevo is fluent in the art of beautiful soundmakery, he’s brought in some (ambient-)famous buddies to help. Rafael Anton Irisarri provides production gloss to more than half the record, which was then passed to Taylor Deupree for mastering, and by god does this thing sound wonderful. So much life in the sound for such synthetic music. Mmm.
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