Electronic music producer Steve Hauschildt first came into prominence as a member of the excellent band Emeralds. Alongside John Elliot and multi-instrumentalist Mark McGuire, the band explored the trajectories between electronica and psychedelia with certain dream pop-esque leanings. These investigations resulted in some excellent works, with the band’s 2010 release Does It Look Like I’m Here standing out in particular.
At the same time, and also after the split of Emeralds, Hauschildt has been exploring his own electronic domain, passing through ambient realms and indulging in drone experimentations. Through the years Hauschildt created a trademark sound, one that draws inspiration from the abstract sub-category of electronic music, and saw him also incorporate elements of Kosmische Musik in his investigations. While his first work, The Summit, didn’t feature that element explicitly, his following works, starting with Tragedy & Geometry, displayed the strong influence of the Berlin school. On the other hand, his previous record Strands saw the producer step slightly away from that sonic motif and instead dive into a more downtempo form, something that has paved the way for his new album, Dissolvi.
Dissolvi is a break from the norm for Hauschildt, as the producer takes a different approach and moves into a minimal techno realm. While this element was present in his previous works, in Dissolvi it becomes a focal point and in turn, produces a more straightforward interpretation of the producer’s vision. And this is a record of subtlety, one that relies on its hypnotic quality, delicate notation, and abstract rhythmic patterns to set its tone.
The minimal touch that Hauschildt provides brings a laid-back tone to these renditions. Even though the record displays a verbosity when it comes to the melodies, the synthetic instrumentation arrives in a stripped down fashion. At times, such as in the ending of the opening track Hauschildt makes a full plunge into the ambient domain. The textures that these moments produce morph through the record, with “Phantox” appearing with a more ominous tone before the melodic lines bring some light into the fold. “Lyngr” further unfolds the ambient techno touch, with its subtle progression, while the melodic lines appear brighter and the rhythmic backbone provides a strong but not overwhelming foundation.
Even with the rhythmic elements of this work, Hauschildt produces a certain smooth characteristic. The textures that he has chosen are simply perfect for a minimal techno investigation. The tangible rhythmic quality of “Phantox” retains a distinct softness, which washes over the excellent “Saccade”. Variations on this theme still take place, and the producer investigates the various qualities of synthetic timbre. The otherworldly “Alienself” features interaction with the rhythmic elements as if they are three-dimensional objects appearing in the space. The tilt towards ritualism is another interesting twist that brings a strange sense of mystery and obscurity to the progression. In a completely different way, the funk-esque bass line of “Aroid” provides a break from the ethereal, serene quality of the record, while in a more extreme outbreak the distorted elements of “Dissolvi” add brilliant colors to the progression of the track.
Another first for Hauschildt in Dissolvi is the inclusion of vocals. On the excellent “Saccade”, featuring the great Julianna Barwick”, the track reaches a completely majestic and hypnotic tone. Barwick’s voice appears through an elusive veil of subtle sounds, creating an electronic, psychedelic haze that merges the mechanical aspect of techno with a more humane touch. On the other hand, “Syncope” sees Hauschildt produce a track with a more energetic presence and a dance-like quality, while the fantastic GABI delivers an operatic performance that fills the surrounding soundscapes.
This change in perspective has allowed Hauschildt to explore the various aspects of his sound and his identity as a producer. By taking a step back from the deep experimentation of his earlier works, he produces a record that encapsulates some of the fundamental qualities of minimal techno, while pushing against the genre’s confinements with some intriguing additions. Dissolvi actually reminds me a bit of Chris Carter’s release earlier this year, Chemistry Lessons Vol I, with Hauschildt also displaying a great grasp of electronic music in general and his choice of producing a smooth and subtle release, while still tempering with fierce, electrifying sounds and a minimal perspective.