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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Hinterland The Glass Shore (2022)

The rhythms here are pleasant companions to a music whose sophistication remains at the heart of its interest

1 Harmonic Tide 8:36

2 The Environs of Time 6:05

3 Obsidian 6:32

4 Optical System 6:38

5 The Equivalence Principle 9:09

6 The Infinity Window 7:18

7 Reflector 6:24

8 The Glass Shore 6:50

(DDL 57:34) (V.F.)

(Dark Ambient, Cinematic score)

Codes of the Biosphere had seduced an audience fond of atmospheric music tinged with new psychedelic elements last year. The album won a prestigious Schallwelle award at this gala that rewards the artisans of the electronic music scene (EM) in Germany. Proud of this achievement, Hinterland exploits the same vein, but with a greater opening on the rhythms and a more futuristic vision of its sound effects. In short, a beautiful continuity that transcends the frontier drawn in the first album of musicians Sean Costello (Isostatic) and Don Tyler (Remote Vision).

Harmonic Tide starts with a wave of swirling sounds. Powerful, this wave of whirring is accompanied by organic sound effects of a futuristic psybient universe. Neo psybient! A more musical wave gets out of this long buzzing which unfolds by fine shakes with an industrial imprint to attach to its texture. The title evolves with a multiplication of synth layers, playing on the paradoxes of the contrasting colors in a futuristic atmospheric vision by the nature of its sound effects and of these distant voices which mumble in a dialogue of machines. Basically, it's an ambient track with a sad look at a dystopian society. The setting and the metamorphic textures of the synth layers and waves of sounds adorn the sound panorama of THE GLASS SHORE. It's the spinal cord of the ambiences of this album whose music likes to project this vision of society subjected to totalitarian dictates. It's under this setting that The Environs of Time deploys a sound texture that sings like an invasion of alien locusts in heat by a too hot night of full moon. These drones have an alarming texture, and the fluctuation of the waves lets out barely audible whispers. The second half of the track is less industrial metallic and offers one of the beautiful ethereal passages of the album. The movement in Obsidian can be compared to a slow maelstrom of magma that moves on with a shrinking effect, so much its mass is so compact. Sound artifices burst here and there. Sounding like fallen chords from the keyboard, they give a spectral and alien dimension to the ambiences of this track which sometimes gives the impression to hear a space shuttle moving against strong cosmic winds. Optical System is the first track to propose a rhythmic substance. Previously, it exploited this division of the synth waves in a still very atmospheric opening where a layer of drone duels with one that is more opalescent. The soundscape is sci-fi but with a video game connotation, by the presence of fire shots from a source that remains to be identified. The rhythm emerges from this opaque setting around the 3rd minute under spreading of always intense sound hoops. The bass pulse is laconic with a rubbery organic texture. The sequencer releases a nice rhythmic phase that runs on the elastic resonances of this bass pulsing line that mumbles under a sky still painted of these sound effects announcing disaster.

Opening and closing in apocalyptic futuristic atmospheric mode, with an alloy of synth lines whose moans sound like good Vangelis, The Equivalence Principle unfolds its rhythmic progression with synth pads that are cut out curtly. It gives a zigzagging rhythmic structure that strangely reminds Edgar Froese's Drunken Mozart in the Desert from his majestic Stuntman album. A surprising track that requires more than one listening. The Infinity Window could almost come from Optical System, so much the granular tone of its buzzing waves sticks to it. The synth layers also have that austere character that foretells a coming cataclysm. A pulsating shadow vibrates about 30 seconds into the 2nd minute. Its flow is slow and pulsating under waves that roll into the horizon with that apocalyptic Vangelis-like impact. The rhythm that follows offers two tones sequences that gambol in a reverberating haze. The woosshh and the wiisshh spread their power without damping this sequence of rhythm which will drown in a din of squeals which has nothing to envy to a vision of the end of the world put in strident tones. This is how the rhythmic phase of THE GLASS SHORE ends. A droning layer softens its sonic ascent in the opening of Reflector. The movement is austere with a tonality split into two visions, two contrasting textures, one of which is quite melodious with its scent of old harmonium. Still slow, the track evolves towards a phase of futuristic ambiences with chords that sound like wind chimes and voice effects that would have made the delights of Star Wars, especially in the Ewoks. Like the sonic lights of a beacon used to guide space shuttles, the title-track ends this THE GLASS SHORE with buzzing synth layers that sweep the horizon in circular motions. More translucent waves stand out and their shadows have a more creeping tendency, creating a vision of spectral meditative melody dancing a slow waltz for solitaire in a dark sky. A bass layer breathes in this intense setting, adding a dramatic weight that suits this attempt at a hazy melody that tries to get out of this big cloud of sound radioactivity.

In this EM universe where the boundaries of the future are the prerogative of a dystopian society, THE GLASS SHORE's music stands out with that innovative spirit that Hinterland gave to the textures of Codes of the Biosphere. The duo Costello/Tyler has seen fit to give more life to their music with rhythmic textures that are pleasant companions to a music whose sophistication remains at the heart of its interest. To be listened to with ears well coated in headphones and eyes riveted in the dark in order to grasp this continuous subtlety that escapes from each of the structures of this very beautiful album that comes from the American label Exosphere.

Sylvain Lupari (October 18th, 2022) ****½*

Available at Exosphere Bandcamp

(NB: Text in blue are links you can click on)

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