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CD Feature/ HOH: "We can work it out"

img  Tobias

There are two cycles of influence: A first one, spontaneously organised by the recording industry and aimed at following up a succesful phenomenon by a plethora of imitations born by radical Caesareans. And then there is a second one, resulting from the artistic impact of a project or piece of music, arriving with considerable delay but with creative conviction. „We can work it out“ is an example of the latter, a seemingly belated return to the stylistic paths wandered by experimental dance bands from the early 90s, which turns out to be a true testimony and hommage to the creative potential set free by their work.

If you should therefore recognise certain structures, arrangements, ideas or sounds from some of your favourite albums, then that is not only okay, but possibly even consciously intended. Arne Hovda, aka HOH, even mentions his list of personal favourites in the liner notes to this six-track EP: Aphex Twin, Coil, Orbital, Prodigy and the The Orb – whose repertoire already seemed used up by scores of bedroom projects.

While coughed-up fury and angry energy of has translated into the pulsating sequencer aggression and drum computer stoicism of „Lovebreak“, Alec Patterson's intutive pop sensitivity suddenly comes welling up from the warm microhouse textures and looped chord breaths of the title track, manifesting itself through Anne-Marte Rygh's soft, sweet and slightly surreal vocal repetitions, gradually growing from a mere slogan into a powerful promise. As different as these two pieces may be, they both reveal a great immediacy in their musical forms and their charm of unfiltered expression – intelligent and unusual arrangements, they seem to say, are not worth a penny without an underlying emotional message to assign structure and meaning to them.

It's been some time since I last heard pieces as obviously guided by the aforementioned classics. On the other hand, there is no reason whatsoever for hiding behind these originals with shame. Hovda is neither repeating a formula nor milking melodies from a dead cow. He has recognised that what made the electronica-movement special was its sense of freedom and its fearless course between the borders of dub, rock, pop, ambient, dance, punk and even musique concrete. Its philosphy was not a dogmatic creed but an invitation to never let your actions be dictated by static formulas or whatever anyone else might think.

HOH adheres to this aesthetic by bridging the divide between various emotional states and by mixing thoroughly commercial material with adventurous arrangements - „Lovebreak“, for example, opens with two minutes of percussive processings, before launching its catchy sonic assault and „We can work it out“ magically varies its elements again and again over the course of its twelve minutes, continuously pushing itself up to new heights, but naturally defying the limitations and demands of format radio (a feat later mended by a three and a half minute „radio edit“). And he adds his own flavour to the famous blueprints by removing all gloss and shimmer from his sounds, stripping down his source material to a bone-dry state of rawness.

Some will consider this an ironic wink of the eye or an attempt at highlighting the DIY nature of his music. A more detailed look reveals, however, that „We can work it out“ gains in intimacy and personality through its reduced sonic architecture. Like a chamber music version of the „new classics“ Arne Hovda would listen to in his youth, it shows its audience how inspiration can be funneled into works which are open about their influences, while taking them to new horizons.

There are, after all, two cycles of appreciation: One guided by trends and hypes and a second by the inherent quality of music, which doesn't mind if a composition is „retro“, as long as it is genuine and inspired.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: HOH
Homepage: Zang Records

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