TheLetterElectronic Music Guide

These Hidden Hands - Vicarious Memories
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Now here's an album that's a bit different—unpigeonholeable even. Vicarious Memories isn't just "electronic music", the work of duo Alain Paul and Tommy Four Seven as These Hidden Hands is innovative, atmospheric and boundary pushing electronic music! Furthermore, with inventive use of guitars and vocals, their music goes beyond the standard, ubiquitous fare. Instead think: Trentemøller, The Knife or Röyksopp.

As an experienced studio engineer, the deft hand of Alain Paul at the helm is evident in the insanely high production values on every track — everything sounds so sharp, in-focus, full-bodied, potent. Opening track Glasir typifies this, packing in rich theatre with its melancholic organ riff and reverb-infused guitar licks; the resulting fusion of both alien and familiar sounds, distorting and converging in perfect harmony, could well soundtrack the opening sequence to a Hollywood blockbuster. Voices adorn most tracks adding intrigue, sometimes as ghostly murmurs other times in the form of a guest vocalist. For instance, Julia Kotowski lends her vocals to The Telepath, a left field Pop tune, resulting in a taut dynamic of squealing synth and brooding melody, teetering on the fringes of unlistenable. Previous single SZ31X71 sounds like manipulated back-to-front vocals with sinuous synths and broken bass.

This is complex and challenging music, but incredibly enjoyable.

When considering Dendera Light, a previous Track of the Moment, I described it as "bristling with energy and menace"; this holds true for the album as a whole. It feels like the scales of tension are at 11 with only brief respite found in the ethereal Grelles Licht and malevolent Litla Dimun. The twangy guitar returns in what I consider the highlight of the album, closing track Hoh XiI; drums build, emotive synths collide with buzzing feedback, it's a monumental affair, which brings to mind the recent work of Norwegian duo Royksopp. It sometimes takes a second album before proper recognition is received... I think the time has arrived for These Hidden Hands.

9/10 after 15 listens

Out now via their own Hidden Hundred label. Listen on Bandcamp.

These Hidden Hands - Vicarious Memories