Steve Hauschildt - Where All is Fled - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Steve Hauschildt - Where All is Fled

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2015-10-01

The album artwork for Steve Hauschildt's Where All is Fled looks like it could have been painted by surrealist Yves Tanguy, with its vast expanse of nothing and strange blocky device in the foreground. It's a case of an album's cover closely matching its audio content.

The album starts out incredibly strongly with 'Eyelids Gently Dreaming', which sounds like what untethering from an umbilical cord in deep space might feel like. There's a depth, a huge void created, with great swaths of layered pads floating past each other. It's massive, airy yet heavy, gorgeous yet melancholy. It's perhaps the best ambient song I've heard this year. I honestly can't say enough positive about it.

That drifts into the second song, the more upbeat 'Arpreggiare', filled with pattering, vintage synths from English 90s electronica or even Ray Lynch's Deep Breakfast. This is another song with great emotional depth. You'd listen to it while cruising in an airship across the wasteland depicted on the album's cover and staring out the window.

It's a shame, then, that the rest of the album can't quite match the phenomenal first two tracks. 'A Reflecting Pond' is decent, containing most of the same elements as 'Arpreggiare', but it somehow lacks personality and feels rather generic. 'Anesthesia' follows, another slow drifter loaded with big pads, but it's cooler, reminiscent of the sterility of much of Dilate's Octagon, not quite reaching your heart, though just as with that album, it makes for pleasant listening. It adds some interesting rippling and burbling as it progresses, sounds which follow through into the next song, 'Vicinities'. This one, a definite highlight of the set, gives a relaxing sensation of travelling across a celestial ocean, or perhaps into it, with a gently unfolding melody that seems to grow in complexity and intensity as you move through it.

But then the album hits its worst slump. 'Edgewater Prelude' is relatively boring, with an utterly predictable melody. Thankfully, it's incredibly brief. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for 'In Spite of Time's Disguise', which might be the album's blandest track, with monotonous pads and sparse hits that annoy more than intrigue. Some of the melodic work is decent, but overall this drags down the experience, as does the quite similar 'Where All Is Fled', which oddly sounds like a stripped down piano interpretation of the previous song. 'The World Is Too Much with Us' perks things up a bit, with rolling melodies that wash in and out of awareness, but just doesn't feel as creative as some of the earlier songs. It definitely has a KLF vibe to it though, like something off Chill Out.

Things improve again with 'Aequus' and its watery manipulations and tinkling effects, sounding much like an Orb track circa Orbus Terrarum. It flows into 'Caduceus', which initially recaptures some of the zero-G magic of the opener and then provides another strong experience of moving across great distances with vamping bass and overlapping synths. 'Sundialed' is more of a vertical experience, once again giving an aquatic feel but as if one were sinking through membranous layers down into some mystical underworld.

'Lifelike' sounds like Spacetime Continuum at its most soothing and sleepy, with some peculiar sound effects that I've not heard before outside of Jonah Sharp's work under that name. The album closes with 'Centrifuge', another relatively simple song lacking in personality. It's fine for what it is, but is mostly unremarkable, and ends the set on a flat note.

On balance, Where All Is Fled is very good, but it's too inconsistent to be a true masterpiece. Anyone looking for solid ambient music will be satisfied, and the best songs on here are really excellent, but this can't quite measure up to the best work in the genre. Still, I am definitely interested to see what else Hauschildt can come up with in the future.

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