Steve Hauschildt - S/H [Editions Mego - 2013]Steve Hauschildt was one third of electronic scene darlings, Emeralds. The band may have split earlier this year, but as all members currently have their own projects, we're probably not going to miss much. During their run from 2006-2012, they released five albums, and a couple dozen EPs, cassettes, and splits. In this same period, Steve Hauschildt released four albums and four cassettes. While this may seem like a lot of material, it's not all of it...there's even more! S/H is a collection of unreleased and rare tracks from 2005-2012. Oh yeah, it's two discs, too.
There is a lot of material presented on S/H. After listening to both discs, one gets a good idea of what Steve brought to Emeralds. Most of the tracks on S/H are unreleased. While some feel complete and work well on their own, others seem like they're the beginnings of something larger. There's not a lot of change from beginning to end, but the sounds are definitely being tested and worked on. It's like a mix and match synth album. Does this tone work with this oscillation speed? Are these highs too active for the slow drone underneath? Not to sell these pieces short, though. They're generally pretty engaging, and have a decent run time. Plus, with so many on the album, there's a lot of synth goodness to bop around your mind.
The two discs of S/H split the years up 2005-2009 and 2010-2012. Interestingly, disc one has the newer chunk and disc two the older. Generally, I prefer sets like this to be in chronological order so I can see growth or, in rare cases, see an artist lose it. Minor gripe, as one can always play disc two first and enjoy the ride that way. As it is, though, disc one has a majority of the tracks, and it's for the better. Steve definitely improved with time and the songs on the first disc show it. Most of disc one feels complete and my favorite tracks from the comp are here. "Enter Return" and "Familiar Scene" are a nice 1-2 punch. Both are rich and thoughtful. The beat and tones in "Enter" makes me think of aerobics and rain (haha what?). I guess that's the nostalgia that it's channeling. A handful of the songs contain simple but effective beats while the rest use varying speeds of oscillations and arpeggios to propel the music along. While distracting on first listen, the more I dug in, the more I appreciated their simple construction. Usually working with a layer or so of low, medium, and high, Steve can set the waves free and let them shape the song in the recesses of your mind. There's some definite psychoacoustics at play. The different pitches and speeds cause sounds and patterns to appear and disappear with changes in concentration. It's like a Magic Eye picture but with sound. It makes for good quality zone out music.
Not every song on S/H is a stand alone winner. However, they all work well together, and all have their merits. There are couple of tracks that would make it onto a mixtape you'd give your friend, and that's more than enough. Editions Mego and Steve Hauschildt have put out two quality discs that any fan of synthesizers would be very happy with.Paul Casey