Steve Hauschildt - Strands
Listening to the new album from Steve Hauschildt is like waking up from a nightmare to find the sun gently streaming through the window, the clouds breaking apart and a clear blue sky taking form. Which is fitting as Strands, the seventh album from the ex-Emeralds keyboard player, is all about cosmogony (the branch of science that deals with the origin of the universe, especially the solar system). Of the eight tracks, Hauschildt describes his intention:
I wanted to try and capture that moment in nature and society where life slowly reemerges through desolation, so it has a layer of optimism looming underneath
That works for me.
Opening with the beautiful, ambient Horizon of Appearances, the tone is set — the sweeping synthesisers cleanse your soul, carrying you aloft on a cosmic cruise of the mind. The soaring highs of A False Seeming continue the theme, like Boards of Canada at their dreamiest. Notice the slightly wonky dip in the melody though? That's Hauschildt subtley reminding us that decay is a ubiquitious and vital part of this life we live.
Hauschildt goes onto say:
I was also inspired by the movement of rivers, particularly their transformative aspect and how they're in a state of flux and change, in particular the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland where I live, which notoriously caught on fire thirteen times because of industrial pollution in the 1960s and before. I was very interested in the dichotomy of oil and water and the resulting, unnatural symptoms of human industry
In that light, Ketrecel is definitely the most industrial sounding synthesiser music on the album, yet it's still majestically serene, perfectly capturing the wild, natural movements of a massive river in musical flux, with a malevolent undercurrent lurking beneath the thin facade of nature's beauty. Even with man's appalling abuse Mother Earth manages to survive and prosper... but for how long?
Hauschildt has produced a soundtrack to nature and it's beautiful.
9/10 after 12 listens
Out today on Kranky.