Brooklynite Conor Heffernan used to be a keyboardist for rock band the Upwelling, but decided to forgo that to eek out a new career as a one-man techno act. However, his debut EP, Haarp, is not suited for the dancefloor, but rather those dark, starry nights on your balcony as the city glistens below, or perhaps the local wine bar. On first blush, Haarp might not be the most original name for the disc as it has already been taken (for EPs, startlingly) by other artists as diverse as Ninna V, Dani Sbert, and Lola DJ Spider. But there’s something intangibly arty to the project: Heffernan’s influences clearly include the avant-garde and jazz, and flashes of those elements percolate through this grey-hued techno.
With song titles named after Japanese paper crafting, the Haarp EP is a glitchy and bubbly affair. You can hear the craft and attention to detail that went into these recordings: “Arc”, in particular, takes diverse elements and beats, and stitches them together into a seamless whole. “Sumingashi II” (there are three movements with the same name) welds together light beats with foreign-sounding female vocals that bob in and out of the mix. And shorter pieces like “Kozogami” and “Sumingashi III”, both of which close the short album, create an almost Gothic mood. My major complaint with this EP is that there are amateurish long spaces in between some of the tracks, which stops the flow of the piece dead cold. If you can look past that, and the relative brevity of the project (even though it is an EP and all, this is over before it really has a chance to begin), the Haarp EP might be what technoheads looking for something a little more challenging than standard club fare might truly appreciate.