black vinyl version - No longer content to deconstruct the droning sounds of his former band, the Emeralds alum gives Kompakt-style minimal techno a try.
Steve Hauschildt has spent the last decade deconstructing the sound his former band, Emeralds, reveled in. Rather than reliving their past glories, he has isolated distinct elements embedded in the drone mavens’ works—gossamer kosmische, fuzzily tactile swaths of noise, the cool glow of early electronic music, the rhythmic hum of synth-driven post-rock in the Trans Am mold—while pushing those styles to a pretty, fully-realized zenith. In a review of 2016’s Strands, Philip Sherburne noted the Cleveland artist’s remarkable consistency, and how that had brought a sense of familiarity to his latest works. Thus far, you’ve generally known what you were going to get from Hauschildt, and that has been a soothing virtue in its own right.
But his seventh studio album, Dissolvi, shakes things up a bit. He’s still spinning webs of synthetic beauty, but now they’ve taken on the more distinctly rhythmic form of minimal techno, a style Hauschildt only hinted at on Strands. The shift makes some sense: Dissolvi is his first record for Ghostly International, the Ann Arbor-born label that has mostly released a variety of rhythmically driven electronic music during an existence that has spanned nearly two decades. Ghostly’s most explicitly dance-oriented releases frequently have a distinctly Midwestern flavor, from the dirty Detroit techno-pop leanings of Motor City son Matthew Dear to Tadd Mullinix’s excursions into acid house and Dilla-esque hip-hop under various aliases.
What’s surprising is that the actual sounds on Dissolvi seem to come from somewhere else entirely—specifically, from Cologne’s Kompakt label, which popularized the album’s brand of exacting minimal techno. The ricocheting tones that open “M Path” sound ripped from one of Kompakt’s Total compilations, while “Alienself” pulses with an eerie calm akin to sometime Orb member Thomas Fehlmann’s solo output; shivering percussive elements and just a slight touch of acid run through the track’s framework. Hauschildt tackles this new aesthetic territory with clinical aplomb, as though he’s been working within this largely dormant subgenre of dance music for years.