Ambient Producer Steve Hauschildt Gets Glitchy on 'Nonlin'

Photo: Courtesy of Ghostly International via Bandcamp

Electronic artist Steve Hauschildt has made one of his most challenging records with Nonlin, but that makes it one of the most rewarding.

Steve Hauschildt

Ghostly International

25 October 2019

Electronic musician Steve Hauschildt has had quite a decade. His prior group, Emeralds released their most critically acclaimed record Does It Look Like I'm Here? right at the beginning, in 2010. That record saw the group congealing and having the most fun heard on an Emeralds' record. Since then, Emeralds have disbanded, and Hauschildt has released solo albums at a clip of nearly one a year, slowly becoming one of the more venerated musicians in the electronic realm. The sounds have bounced around from new-wave and pop-influenced (Sequitur) to beat heavy techno-influenced albums (Strands), but the constant has been the calming nature of a majority of the songs. Hauschildt's new album for Ghostly International, Nonlin, offers up a serving of what's expected as well as some developments in his sound.

The opener, "Cloudloss", does what a good ambient song should do: It floats in, it slowly develops to an epic climax, and then it floats out, all while probably not bothering someone curled up reading in the corner. The follow-up track, "Subtractive Skies" starts quiet and slowly develops into a beat-heavy bass-led groove and never really being loud about it. "A Planet Left Behind" is the lightest track on the album, and beautiful all the same. It's just there to enjoy, like air.

"Attractor B" is where we notice something a little new. It starts with some simple chime sounding chords while something else slowly bubbles from below. It's a glitch in there. Eventually, that glitchy beat not too far from prime-era Aphex pops to the forefront and takes over the song. It's not exactly calm or relaxing in the traditional sense. That reader curled up in the corner probably would have just popped their head up to see what all the noise is about. It's not a bad development, really, but it's noticeable.

The rest of the album pretty much bounces around between the two types: one being was it expected and calm ("The Nature Remaining" and "Reverse Culture Music") and glitchy wildness ("Nonlin" and "American Spiral"). It's a rewarding enough journey, though.

As it is, it's not a typical ambient release, as there is much more engagement required from the listener. A commonly respected feature of an ambient record is that you can forget about it and just let it color your life. Nonlin is not that. It's asking you to notice the cracks in the structure and the tension caused by them. It wants to show all its parts, not hide them. It's a more challenging record, for that reason, but it's also one of the more rewarding listens of Hauschildt's career.







The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.


John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.


Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.


Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.


Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.


Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.


Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.


Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.


Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".


The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.


The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.


Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.


​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.


John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.