Expert DJ Helena Hauff presents her second full length - a suite of her own productions, which are potent enough to stand tall alongside any of the gritty, futuristic electro she might choose to spin of an evening. Qualm is made up of direct hardware jams, and has appropriately hard-kicking results: ready for the floor, but with a certain sense of hovering dark atmosphere around it (see the German translation of Qualm: smoke).
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A couple of bars into the opening cut on Helena Hauff’s second album and I’m wondering what exactly she’s been doing with her 808? ‘Barrow Boot Boys’ is electro so utterly filthy it could have crawled from out of the sewers. Sounds like that 808 has been exhumed from some ancient tomb and been infested with mold and caked in grit. It’s great to hear that since she’s recently become more successful as an artist, she hasn’t compromised that raw energy and rugged production that makes her sound so appealing.
‘Lifestyle Guru’ bangs hard with distorted drums and searing 303 like some proper The Hauge style comatose Acid Planet gear. The trippy ‘btdr-revisited’ is like particles swirling and dancing to relentlessly infectious cowbells and claps. ‘Entropy Created You And Me’ is a really gorgeous, wonderfully introspective tune with ascending bleeping melodies and blue drones. ‘Fag Butts In The Fire Bucket’ is proper nasty, in the red, nightmarish and menacing - think I-f’s ‘Portrait of a Dead Girl’ vibes. ‘Hyper-Intelligent Genetically Enriched Cyborg’ is some super squelching, zapping acid sci-fi techno. Likewise ‘The Smell Of Suds And Steel’ has her tweaking Roland’s magic little silver box for a peak time acid ‘floor burner. While ‘Primordial Sludge’ uses the 303 alongside eerie zero gravity soundscapes to create anxiety and tension. The title cut ‘Qualm’ is a lush almost Kosmische style track that leaves a lingering melancholy that bleeds over into ‘No Qualms’ but this permutation utilizes skeletal beats that seem to elevate it into something more optimistic. From here it feels as though we’re emerging from out of the darkness or leaving a cold barren planet for pastures new. Warmth radiates from ‘Panegyric’ and the slow creeping ecstasy of final track ‘It Was All Fields Around Here When I Was A Kid’ complete with its Detroit school strings.
She’s keeping things pretty raw on this album - her production is deliciously gritty, but that’s not to say the music is unsophisticated, primitive or unrefined - there are more than a few dazzling musical moments on this album that work nicely both in and out of the context of some grubby warehouse rave.
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- Qualm by Helena Hauff
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