Hanna Hartman - H^2 [Komplott - 2011]“H^2” is the second full length release from Swedish sound artist and composer Hanna Hartman. And it finds her offering up a collection of tracks that mix together cleverly edited field recording elements with stripped musical and rhythmic textures.
I was a huge fan of Ms Hartman’s first full length release 2007 “Alianthus” which also apperared on the Komplott label, the album was deeply playful and often jarring in it’s crazed juxtaposition of all manner of sounds and noises. “H^2” is a lot more considered, often sparse and less crazed than her first album. Here she often uses the edited field recordings in a more sparing and less obvious manner, and these are now mixed with stripped and mainly improv based musical and rhythmic textures.
As an whole the album takes a few more listens to get into than “Alianthus”, but when it does click there’s a lot to like and enjoy here. The album starts with it’s longest track the just under sixteen minutes of “Message From The LightHouse”. This first track is a very subtle and spaced mixture of harmonic dragging and tinkling mettlic textures, bird wing flapings, juddering and wavering stripped electro texturing and vibe dwell, and slowed/broken up banks of African rhythmic like improv runs. Latter on the track “Circling Blue” starts out with a mixture of wind field recordings and wavering 'n' haunting high pitch female operatics. As the track moves on she drops in racing car trackwhizzing and bee buzzing field recordings into the heady yet strange sonic mixture. Nearly all of the five tracks on offer here are effective, charming and other worldly in there make up, and there attempt to create a middle ground between sound art and haunting, playful or atmospheric harmonic and rhythmic improv.
The only track that feels a little less effective, rewarding and unfocused is the last track “Shanghai Fireflies” which mixes together distant oriental street field recordings, sizzling textures, squeaking and scrapings, baby chick sounds, reversed organ music, footsteps and other seemingly random sonic flotsam and jettison. The track just feels all too lose, random, and unstructured meaning that your attention difts over it’s thirteen and a half minutes playtime.
So “H^2” is a mostly rewarding and worthwhile collection of tracks that manage to mix together cleverly cut and edited field recordings, and often subtle/ improvised rhythmic and musical elements. So if your enjoy your sound art with more harmonic and rhythmic traces then “H^2” is very much worth checking out.