Steve Hauschildt : Dissolvi

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Enough time has passed since Emeralds‘ break-up that it’s no longer as contextually crucial to the Ohio-born producer’s body of work as it once was. No doubt, that trio’s discography yielded some of the best progressive electronic music of the 21st century, hitting their peak with the stunning Does It Look Like I’m Here from 2010. But since then each member has splintered into their own unique projects, from John Elliott’s collagist soundscapes as Imaginary Softwoods and his curatorial work as head of the Spectrum Spools label to Mark McGuire’s stunning and adventurous guitar-based sounds via recent recordings such as Beyond Belief and Noctilucence. Hauschildt, arguably, is the artist whose own compositions have diverted from Emeralds’ hypnotic ambience the least, though even that’s only partially true. There’s a momentum and a physicality to Hauschildt’s recordings that feel like the next stage of an evolution—abstractions and concepts crystallizing and taking shape.

On Dissolvi, Hauschildt’s first album to be released through Ghostly, the producer finds a more prominent pulse beneath his warm synth vapor. The album’s title is taken from the Latin phrase “cupio dissolvi,” which translates to “I wish to be dissolved.” But on a purely musical level, it sounds like the opposite. Where on albums such as Tragedy and Geometry and Strands Hauschildt seemed to offer the suggestion of rhythm more than one so fully fleshed out, here he takes a natural step into arrangements more suited for downtempo or IDM. “Aroid,” for instance, doesn’t sound vastly far apart from the gorgeous ambient techno of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, and leadoff track “M Path” has a similar sort of stunning unpredictability, its spindly melodic synth lines working in concert with its static-ridden beats, but never quite perfectly aligned with them.

When Hauschildt pairs his intricate, atmospheric compositions with the voice of a collaborator, the differences are subtle but significant. His collaboration with avant garde vocalist Julianna Barwick, “Saccade,” sounds like a proper synth-pop ballad, easily the most accessible and direct piece of music here and a strong sign of the kind of expansion Hauschildt was capable of (even though it features a similar kind of sound as Emeralds’ maligned final album). Similarly, his track with New York art-pop artist GABI, “Syncope,” actually pushes the BPMs up to the point of being dancefloor-appropriate. It’s remarkably pretty, but it has a physicality to it that feels exciting. Making dance music isn’t necessarily Hauschildt’s thing, but this track strongly suggests it could be. It’s representative of Dissolvi as a whole, an album seemingly concerned with dissolving but more accurately about becoming corporeal.

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