||Click on CD Cover for Audio Review in streaming mp3 format|
Steve Hauschildt: Dissolvi
by George Graham
(Independent Release As broadcast on WVIA-FM 8/29/2018)
The late 1970s and 1980s were the peak period for innovative electronic music, before the synthesizers became ubiquitous on the dance and electronic pop scenes. Much of the music back then was instrumental and became part of the New Age scene, with artists like Jean Michel-Jarre, Synergy, early Yanni, with some keyboard artists from bands the also trying their hand at the genre such as Patrick Moraz from Yes and the Moody Blues, Jan Hammer, then from the Mahavishu Orchestra, and others. In more recent years, there has not been a great deal of activity on the scene, with some synthesists going back to acoustic instrumentation. Also the technology of synthesizers has become cheaper and increasingly simple to use which drew in a lot of less sophisticated pop artists. Electronic sequencing provides an easy way to create a dance beat.
But a few artists have continued with the mostly atmospheric, textural direction in electronic music, a contemporary spin on new age, if you will. This week we have a worthy example. It’s the new recording by Steve Hauschildt called Dissolvi.
Steve Hauschilt grew up in Ohio, around Cleveland, and established his career there before moving to Chicago last year. He was the founder of a trio called Emeralds which released its first album in 2006. After the band went their separate ways in 2013. Hauschildt starting recording under his own name. Dissolvi is his seventh solo album, and with most of them mixing some ambient sounds with occasional dance rhythms. The title, by the way, comes from a Biblical phrase “cupio dissolvi” or “I wish to be dissolved” into God.
While some of Hauschildt’s previous solo work tended toward ambient dance. This new recording borrows from the principle of minimalism, with elements that repeat and loop, but gradually evolve, usually with sonically interesting results. It has also been noted that Dissolvi is Hauschildt’s first album with vocals, with guest appearances by Juliana Barwick and the artist named Gabi, contributing mostly wordless vocals on two tracks. But most of the album is textural electronic music with that usually gets into a rhythmic pattern. The synthesizer sounds are generally quite retro, like analog synthesizers and with a notable apparent absence of sampling. There is the characteristic looping of sequences, which works well the for the minimalist approach, with the sonic textures evolving and occasionally making more rapid transitions within a piece. But sometimes the repetition comes without enough of the sonic changes, so a couple of the tracks ended sounding a little monotonous.
Opening is a piece called M Path, sets the pace for the album with its hybrid of new agey retro synth sound with a some hints at a dance beat. <<>>
Somewhat more varied in sound is Phantox, which runs from sort of deep space <<>> to an intriguing mixture of floating atmospherics with a busy rhythmic sequence. <<>>
One of the tracks with the vocals is Saccade, which features Juliana Barwick, who is an electronic artist herself. The result is pleasing ambient ear candy. <<>>
The lengthiest piece on the album is Alienself, and unfortunately, it does go on for too long without a lot of musical or textural ideas or sonic motion. <<>>
A track called Aroid nicely follows the minimalist music principle of a repetitive motif with gradual evolution, its droning quality juxtaposing with a more active rhythmic sequence. <<>>
Also featuring vocals is Synscope, which features the artist known as GABI. There are some rather incomprehensible lyrics in this piece which is another mixture of the atmospheric with the rhythmic. <<>>
That segues into a Lyngr, which continues the rhythmic sequence with but with more nicely evolving sonic textures. <<>>
The album ends with its title piece Dissolvi which is based on an odd sound used in rhythmic figure which some might say sounds like passing gas. But it provides for more sonic interest. <<>>
Dissolvi, the new release by synthesist-composer Steve Hauschildt is an intriguing hybrid evoking the New Age scene from 30-plus years ago, with atmospheric sounds and what seems like analog synthesizers, combined some of the rhythmic sequences of electronic ambient dance. The album is not really strong on musical content, like melodic lines as were some of the early synthesists, but the sonic textures are intriguing, with the mood being somewhere between trance and chillout.
Our grade for sound quality is close to an “A.” It’s almost all electronic, so it is what it is, and capturing the nuances of acoustic instruments doesn’t enter into the equation. The mix is quite good with the use of reverb and delay effects creating a nice three-dimensional quality.
While there is plenty of electronic dance music around, with most of it pretty dumb, this kind of sonically creative synthesized music has been fairly rare since the New Age days. Steve Hauschildt’s new album Dissolvi is a welcome addition to the genre.
(c) Copyright 2018 George D. Graham. All rights reserved.
This review may not be copied to another Web site without written permission.
Comments to George:
To Index of Album Reviews | To George Graham's Home Page. | What's New on This Site.