Steve Hauschildt - Dissolvi

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2018-08-03
Steve Hauschildt - Dissolvi
Steve Hauschildt - Dissolvi

Prolific electronic musician Steve Hauschildt is back with his fifth album, Dissolvi, and it's luxurious. He continues to refine his work, exploring new angles while improving on what he's done before. Hauschildt goes off in a lot of different directions in this set; while always staying within the comfy confines of ambient electronic, his approach is more like a starburst rather than a set of parallel lines. There is a great vintage quality to a lot of the sounds on offer, but at the same time, old chrome is polished until it glows.

Opening track 'M Path' starts things off strong, with a very retro-futuristic sound, like 70s Dr. Who. The synths ripple and bubble like a river of digital marbles, cascading past endlessly and creating a powerful sense of attention-grabbing depth. The song is positively arresting in its standoffish charm. 'Phantox' starts out all quiet pads, but pulls in a lightly skittering percussion, like raindrops on a rooftop before bringing a few different melodies ranging from sweet to earthy.

'Saccade', featuring guest singer Julianna Barwick, is probably intended to be a highlight but comes off as relatively drab. It's not bad, exactly, but it's bit listless and aimless, sounding like a leftover track from an old Chicane album. It's soothing and nice and all that, but it's like having just a few wispy strands of cotton candy, unsatisfying. 'Alienself' is better, with a variegated, percolating pile of overlapping synth melodies stacked on top of each other. It's in the same spaced-out place as groups like Higher Intelligence Agency or Deep Space Network.

Hauschildt never quite slides all the way into pure ambience, but 'Aroid' comes close in the early going, with bejeweled pads washing over your ears before grudgingly fading out to make room for a series of nuanced synth melodies and some nice clockwork percussion that gently splatters itself across the song. 'Syncope', with vocalist Gabi, sounds straight off an old Autechre album at first, except way more coherent, with beautifully sparkling synths, but eventually a simple four-on-the-floor beat makes it sound a lot more club friendly, maybe for a chill-out room (do they still have those?). As before, the vocals here are barely even words, more like breathy moans for the most part. They work better this go round though. The follow-up, 'Lyngr', uses most of the same tools, with an identical beat, more breathiness, and a few more convoluted electronic melodies swirling around in the background. These two tunes are the most similar of any, and if the entire album had sounded like this, it would have worn out its welcome.

Closing and title track 'Dissolvi' has the boldest opening of anything in the set, a fairly harsh and crusty chunk of percussive synth, once again feeling like a nod to Autechre. And it keeps things interesting throughout, adding layers of twinkling synths pouring over each other, and a stronger and more insistent beat than anything else on the set. I always appreciate electronic music that can create either a sense of space or of motion, and this song does the latter extremely well, sounding like a slow, spinning fall down a black hole, a gorgeous tune with just a dash of dread.

Dissolvi is very good, almost great. While a few of the individual songs are weaker, most are solid, and this is a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The strong start and conclusion really help. While there are places to nitpick when a microscope is applied, if you just let the entire album slide past your ears, you'll find it to be a delight. Check out the opening track, 'M Path', below.

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