HSDOM, ‘Granite IV’

Posted by on May 13, 2013


Black Horizons, 01/13/2013

Okay, everyone. Let’s unplug our synthesizers and pack in all the pedals. Jochen Hartmann is still putting out HSDOM music and everything else is pointless. We did our best, but Hartmann can take it from here. The overall existence and presence of Granite IV falls in line with Hartmann’s M.O. Abruptly released in a run of just 100 copies without any real heads up, the tape came out of nowhere, similar to the way in which Hartmann operates his own Phaserprone label, which he runs alongside fellow UW OWL-er Jonas Asher. What’s most surprising about this is that it isn’t another self-release, it’s on seminal obscuro label Black Horizons. Label matters aside, this is classic Hartmann, which is to say it’s a pristinely sardonic sonic experience.

The bleak and black post industrialism HSDOM perpetuates is as artistic and exploratory as it is affectingly nihilistic and beautiful. The mechanical hum of ‘disregarded’ machines (mostly synths and drum machines) as they produce their programmed emissions in tandem with an inhuman rhythms; inhuman not because they’re technically impossible to perform, but because they are so utilitarian. I’d be remiss to call it a beat, but the organized patterns of percussive noise loops endlessly, like a languid perpetual motion machine designed by a brilliant drunkard in his spare time.

“Der Ozean” opens with a bubbly (think cauldron) synth patch that seems freshly woken from some hibernation, or a long unappreciated piece of machinery exploring a new-found use. The unassuming melody communicates a nefarious charm, evident throughout the rest of the tape. The notes subtly stab like a dull blade that gouges and tears slowly.

“Granite Tomb” and “Gate” survey a soot-coated scene of urban interaction, soundtracked by a murderous broadcast of stray signals and calls of distress. Like an out-take from a Gaspar Noé film, unsettling low-ends form the basis of a constantly warped and heaving mise-en-scène. There’s enough narrative provided to make it clear you don’t want to serve as a witness, but it’s impossible to look away. Errant recordings and transmissions buzz through space babbling incoherent visions and revelations. The grim narrative also highlights Hartmann’s undeniable fixation with the frozen, nihilistic aesthetic of black metal; a theme that uncovers itself from time to time on other Hartmann-related projects and somewhat in Phaserprone’s design. The intro of “Granite Tomb” sounds like a worn and warped copy of a Darkthrone demo, played back from a deck with dying batteries. A-side closer “Leichen Im Sand/Exogenesis” provides a brief flash of sparkling beauty amidst a cloud of ash and smoke. The scene is momentary, giving way to a suite of random keyboard tones and gritty sounds.

B-side opener “Stille In Der Fussgängerzone” is the longest track here, allowing ample space for the sole drone track to really sink in. Frigid tones of sustained notes cross paths in the subtlest of ways, creating a natural middle tone that pierces as it envelops. It’s dark ambient, but only in its demeanour and intent. There are no corny effects or stilted tricks here, just frozen drifts of stagnant sound. The song eventually dissolves, making way for more of the welcomed brutality of the tape’s A-side. Closing suite “Hinter Karstadt” and “Der Stausee” couples the abandoned vagueness of the previous track while perpetrating an ugly play on cheap keyboards and clipped, sampled percussion. A hollow sample of processed drumming on (possibly) PVC pipe patters atop shifty synth chords and a haunted, vacant melody. Although Hartmann skirted the recent anarchic improvisations of his recent NIL project (also with Asher) this time around, the residual chaos is undeniably present.