Hula - Voice [Klanggalerie - 2019]Voice was the 5th and final album from Sheffield collective Hula- it showed the group at their most sonically dense & crowded with its blend industrial, synthpop, uneasy new romantics & paranoid funk/ darker hued electronica. The album originally appeared back in 1987 on Red Rhino Records- here it gets a CD reissue from the folks over at Klanggalerie, with the original nine tracks been expanded to a fifteen track release, with a new runtime of seventy-five minutes.
This reissue appeared in April of last year- it comes a four-panel glossy digipak that takes in the original murky yellow, green and blue collage artwork- this, of course, fits perfectly the often tightly packed & layer heavy sound of the album it's self.
Hula were formed in Sheffield in 1981, and though-out their seven four years existent the band membership moved between four & six members. Their sound very much stood in a rather awkward place- as it was often too noisy/ experimental for the passing pop audience, yet they often embedded their work with more harmonic/ pop elements- so of course, this could well be a turn-off for more formal industrial/ noise/ experimental audience.
The album kicks-off with the track “Give Me Money(till it’s crawling out of my face)- and this finds the band at their most dense and slightly messy, as we find a blend of choppy & pumping synth ‘n’ beats( which sounds rather like the soundtrack The Equaliser), lots synthetic horn darts, discordant string loops, more electronic drums, swooping & wailing guitars, and lastly the layered male vocals- to be fair when you first hear it you’ll think it sounds like a mess, but later plays do reveal some sort logic/ sense to the layering.
As we move through the album we come to paranoid synth pop-meets-stark funk of “Cut Loose”- and once again there are layers of stuff going here- to start with things begin fairly creepy, as we get young women talking about a ghost walking towards a town- then fairly soon we get a chaotic mix of fed back synth horns, revered vocals, and coldly snapping beats ‘n’ bass pile-in…things calm down somewhat as we move into the sing-song lyrics, but fairly soon more elements are thrown in- samples about crimes, extra wailing at times discordant synth layers, & synthetic horn honks come into play. With track six “Clear Water” we have somewhat of an eastern feel- with wailing horns, zig-zag percussion, and possibly some ethic instrumentation- this is added to by shifting wave muffled amassed chants, keyboard layers, and latter a cold-clear-if wonky bass tones. The original album finishes with the track “Poison”- here we have a blend of stabbing electro-funk, layered at time yelled amassed male vocals, and of course, the usual dense production with layers of elements- around the midway we get a sudden more meaty/ focused synth line which had a rather EDM vibe to it.
The five bonus tracks here taking in remixes of album tracks- which more often than not add in even more layers of elements- we also get a few unreleased tracks- these are an ok bonus, and interesting to hear- but as it makes the album's runtime seventy-five minutes- it does become a bit overwhelming if you play it all in one sitting.
Voice is certainly not an album for everyone- as it's sonically dense & very 80’s in its sound, also the blend of experimental & more tunefully pop is unbalancing. But I’d say if you either enjoy Coil’s more tuneful/ sample-based 80’s work, or denser & paranoid genre-blending I’d say give this ago.