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Huerco S. - Plonk Music Album Reviews

Huerco S. - Plonk Music Album Reviews
On his first album as Huerco S. in six years, the Kansas musician trades his customary ambient textures for an hour’s worth of intricate, off-center head trips.

Brian Leeds has been wrestling with electronic music’s utilitarian aspects since he was barely out of his teens. He started his career as Huerco S. in 2011 with a series of 12"s that subverted house music’s rhapsodic abandon, buffing its surface until the dancefloor seemed to lie behind a pane of frosted glass. As he became recognized in dance music circles as an innovator of what was inelegantly called “outsider” house, he dipped in and out of club-centric styles until he abandoned them altogether on 2016’s For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have). Despite its stature as one of the defining ambient albums of the past decade, many tracks on For Those of You cut to stark, disorienting silence mid-phrase, insistently reminding the listener that any blissful state is by nature temporary. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone using the album in their next savasana.

Still, Leeds seems to conflate the album’s success with the slow spread of more docile strains of ambient music. “[Ambient] is like productivity music, capitalist music,” he told Bandcamp last year. “It doesn’t get in your way, like you can still work your job. It kinda makes me cringe a bit. And maybe I feel responsible for that.” In the past five years, under the name Pendant, he’s released just two albums of abstract, billowing sound that few would call easy listening. Whenever consensus builds around whatever he’s doing, Leeds, seemingly feeling his back against the wall creatively, sheds his skin and walks away—not just from a sound or style, but from how listeners engage with his music as a part of their daily life.

Plonk is Leeds’ first album as Huerco S. in six years, and once again the album’s brilliance comes from the way it subverts its utilitarian framing. The titular sound that acts as the music’s aesthetic anchor is inspired by the mechanics of an automobile, metal against metal working in concert to produce forward motion. Car culture and electronic music share intersecting histories that bridge the gap between Germany and Detroit, but there is no motorik pulse signifying the steady passing of highway lines here. It’s hard to say that its ideal setting is a long drive, as Leeds has tentatively suggested, either; the depth of the album’s production is lost beneath the hum of the motor and the rush of the road. Plonk is much more inventive, much more varied and surprising, than the framework suggests.

One Plonk’s most striking aspects is Leeds’ Escher-esque approach to rhythm and song structure, with repetitive loops often taking a backseat to translucent drift and illusory syncopation. The first two tracks are percussive without relying on a pulse; in fact, they forgo almost any hint of a steady tempo. “Plonk I” opens with flickering beads of sound tapping at the ears like droplets hitting a windowpane, and they become more insistent, but never more coherent, as the first track develops. Tessellating pulses of synthesizer detonate at irregular intervals before evaporating into hiss and bassy rumble on “Plonk II,” punctuated by expectant periods of dead silence. Only as “Plonk III” ramps up is there any semblance of rhythmic continuity, and with a rush of drum machine the music becomes a multi-dimensional current of interlocking grooves.

Plonk follows a parabolic arc, with the highest energy tracks all clustered near the center of the album. The meatiest, most propulsive zone, primarily concentrated in “Plonk III” and “Plonk IV,” consists of dazzling rhythmic workouts that draw on Leeds’ experience as a peak-time DJ but maintain the unwavering asymmetry of the album’s expository tracks. Textural layers whirl and collide in tandem with melodic synth lines and seemingly autonomous drum patterns that reconfigure themselves every few bars. These tracks reference various corners of the zeitgeist—traces of melodic IDM, atmospheric glitch, dread-laden trap, and the psychedelic bounce of trance are all present—but ultimately they are subservient to the grand, vividly rendered swirl.

Even the steady unraveling that occurs during the album’s second half is full of surprises and sharp left turns. After a couple digressions into low-lit, downtempo loops (some of the most uncomplicated, undemanding productions on the album), Leeds brings in rapper Sir E.U, a linchpin of Washington, DC’s experimental hip-hop scene, for “Plonk IX.” E.U is a perfect foil for Leeds; both make music that is playful, skewed, and profound, but where Leeds’ productions feel meticulous, E.U follows every lyrical tangent as they occur to him. A kick drum fires sporadically, accenting E.U’s whimsical flow, while garbled synths cluster around his voice like bees on honeycomb. Ending the album with the silky ambient flutter of “Plonk X” feels almost as provocative. After 50 minutes of intricate and off-kilter head trips, its gentleness, recalling some of the most blissful moments of For Those of You, is disarming.

Plonk shows Leeds evolving in real time as he throws an abundant number of very sticky ideas at the wall. Its most cohesive element is the onomatopoeia that gives the album its name, which appears in various forms: Sometimes it’s a literal clank of metal, other times a synthetic scrap of errant sound that whizzes by. But the record’s multiplicity results in a strange kind of approachability, with each errant turn inviting us to hear what those obscure corners of the music have to say. To give in slightly and breathe some life back into Leeds’ car metaphor, perhaps this music provides a safe, impeccably designed environment in which to traverse those unknown spaces; at its heart, this is music about and for the daily explorations that offer new perspectives on the world. In that sense, Plonk is nothing if not transportive.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Huerco S. - Plonk Music Album Reviews Huerco S. - Plonk Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, March 04, 2022 Rating: 5

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