Huerco S. For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)

[Proibito; 2016]

Styles: ambient
Others: Gas, Dettinger, Hiroshi Yoshimura

Huerco S. on titling his new album For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have):

I feel like it’s not even grammatically correct. I found it on the back of a record that my friend had. I think it’s a funk/soul record from the ’70s and I had no idea what this record was. I tried to Google it and couldn’t find out any information on it. Instead of a “thank you” sheet on the record, it had this note saying “For those of you that have never (and also those of you who have) tried…,” blah blah blah. There was a list of things that the people behind the music recommended that other people should do, like “a long walk on the beach with your lover” or “eating a plate of collard greens.”

I thought it was such a weird concept, but it made sense in the context of the album because there’s this range of emotion and you are obviously not going to feel it all at once, but I think it’s really important for us all to understand that some have and some have not experienced or felt certain things. The name is quite playful because, despite the sounds on the album, I also don’t want to be seen to be taking things too seriously.


As with some of the most impressive of ambient compositions, time really does seem to slip away while listening to this album, possibly the most awkwardly and beautifully titled I’ve come across in a while. This perennial effect is perhaps a byproduct of Huerco S.’s working process, which he describes as “falling asleep on his synth” while crafting the tracks. It’s a sentimental image, one that might detract if the songs felt like unnecessarily aimless dirges, but they feel perfectly free-formed.

Opening the album is “A Sea of Love,” and its gentle synth undulations giving way to an excruciatingly delicate melody best illustrate the method involved with this kind of work: everything feels in its right place, and nothing emerges or changes too quickly. But the textural “peak” of sorts doesn’t bear a trace of overwrought agreeability. One can hear the precise degree to which it has been executed, but it’s markedly more worthwhile to just let it roll over you; an astute listening is really not the most rewarding way to experience something so blissfully wholesome and fucking beautiful.

And while FTOYWHN is a very, very Huerco S. album, with copious second-hand tape warble, wide de-tuning, and digital haze marking out a similar territory to Colonial Patterns, immediately noticeable is the abandonment of sampling as the go-to generative technique within Huerco’s arsenal. The roaming, Oneohtrix Point Never-indebted synth-drone of his fan-favorite Opal Tapes release hinted at a warm, nostalgic side to his continually-expanding oeuvre, but the shift toward the more oblique content of this record can be traced back to his contribution to the series 24 Hours From Culture, in the form of a nearly hour-long mix that rivals 100% Galcher as one of the best wholly artist-sourced mixes of recent years.

At the beginning of that mix is “Lifeblood (Nai¨ve Melody),” which follows the opener on this record too. Aptly-titled, the song’s plaintive lead snakes over a heavy low-end rumble thick with the kind of haze distinct in Huerco’s work up until now, but where its inert form would’ve segued overtly-rhythmic tracks beforehand, it now serves as a suitably long-form interlude to “Hear Me Out.” One clipped and awkwardly strung-together Fender Rhodes motif wanders in free space, before another more discernible emerges, encircles it, and then engulfs it entirely, spiralling into the dreamy ambience also found on the gorgeously bleak “Promises of Fertility.”

But FTOYWHN is not simply a case of Huerco having gone New Age. The less groove-specific tracks in his back-catalogue (the drones, the ambient sketches) had the tendency to feel like the meditative gestures of something as flippantly faux-exotic as Buddha-Beats Volume 5 had been scooped out, leaving a quietly distressing husk in their place (in the most enticing way possible). This persists, but with a switch of gear that now places the emphasis upon those beat-less aspects of Huerco’s craft. Some tracks are imbued with the restless energy of, for example, “Quivira” or “Canticoy” from Colonial Patterns. The dub-gone-odd of “Kraanvogel” feels like a Basic Channel loop bent and inverted, percussion skewed dramatically. We can imagine its endlessly rolling figures dissolving into the rewarding, repetitive thud that so many followers of Huerco’s work may be longing for — but within the context of the album, this incarnation makes a lot more sense.

Sewn into the floating expanse of “The Sacred Dance” is the naive optimism and disingenuous gestures of New Age laid bare in a quietly mournful labyrinth, broken song and aching melody reverberating through some unimaginable space. I’d be tempted to call it “hauntingly beautiful,” but that description perhaps recalls more so the 78-sampling works of Leyland Kirby or those unambiguous-by-association tape loops of William Basinski. And I think it’s important to distinctly separate this album, which comes from an artist whose work has both successfully circumvented simple categorization as nostalgic or overtly-referential and managed to carefully indulge in the aesthetic comfort it provides. FTOYWHN exists in its own little world, a world beyond a cursory assessment of its makeup, its essence, its time — or how that could slip away upon listening. Huerco S. claimed he wanted to make something timeless. Both genuinely and emblematically, he’s done just that.

Links: Huerco S. - Proibito

Eureka!

Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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