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Steve Hauschildt – Strands

Kranky

Steve Hauschildt – StrandsI remember seeing Emeralds, Steve Hauschildt‘s band, whilst touring with the aptly-titled Painjerk at the much missed Croft in Bristol. We were incredibly thankful for the aural balm that Emeralds provided after the assault of Painjerk. It was akin to bathing your face in a warm sunrise after being hit by lightning.

For whatever reason, I have not kept up with Emerald’s activities, though have fond memories of that evening. Therefore I was quite keen to hear Steve’s latest, but was totally unprepared to be as moved or to find myself as engulfed by the eight tracks presented here. Clearly these sort of drifting semi-ambient dreamscapes follow an illustrious lineage: Tangerine Dream, Fripp/Eno, Michael Rother, The Orb; the list goes on, but this album somehow draws me in a away I find hard to explain.

Imagine standing on a road bridge overlooking traffic passing by, horns blaring, but due to some unknown power you are able to slow the vehicles down to 1/100th of their speed. This power brings with it a certain sadness as the vehicles and their occupants appear trapped in some uncertain limbo. Listening to “A False Seeming” gives you that sense. Elsewhere, “Ketracel” nods to Jan Hammer, but seems to evoke doubt and indecision in the sweeping synth horizon undermining the buoyant rhythm. There is a fantastic image of some beachside California church, empty save for the organist playing a lament to the setting sun and trying to evoke the sort of eastern haze for which Steve Hauschildt was always searching.


Somehow, the title track evokes scenes from the film Crying Freeman, capturing a kind of gauze-y yearning which the sepulchral “Transience Of Earthly Joys” attempts to trump with its mournful Gregorian air and cathedral-like ambience, sounds ascending to a vaulted ceiling, air thick with dust and the beauty of melancholy. The album draws to an end with the brief but glorious “Die In Fascination” and I found myself just wanting more.

I am no electronica aficionado, but this for me is one of the finest synth-based albums that I can remember; its minor chord air and at times ethereal nature ensuring a swell of feeling all the way through. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

-Mr Olivetti-

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