A film by David Bart for the first release on Facture by the artist Hummingbird...
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
Donald Rumsfeld’s, quixotic ‘Intelligence’ brouhaha, almost sounds like an astute assessment of previous commentators attempts to confirm anything about anonymous zeitgeist, and potential enigma of the modern classical style, Hummingbird.
The original version of this lo-fi, electro-acoustic master class, saw the haunted Hummingbird display a disposition to hover imperceptibly, over waves of wise and wistful ambient harmonic nectar. Now, with a cryptic reference to the real bird’s ability to fly backwards, Hummingbird returns to the source material and delivers a dark and discordant re-interpretation.
The remixes album offers a dense and dexterous synthesis of re-sampled parts of the original recording, along with; new harmonic distortions, textured layers of edifying live instrumentation, obscure field recordings, drifts of static interference plus an extensive palette of inventive and long forgotten audio grains, murmurs and resonances.
The first two tracks form a first ‘movement’ that suggests a traumatic experience; a shipwreck, a death, or the failure of current thinking.
Opening track, Uncertainty in Copenhagen (Nowhere to Turn Mix) starts with a deliberate decelerating effect of ambiguous field noise. A compressed and crowded atmosphere builds as a distant low-end drone begins to throb with terror, echoing in a sinister and malevolent manner. An additional heavier drone now oscillates nervously, a dark foreboding feeling of doom descends, post apocalyptic landscapes take shape as swathes of oppressive breathing suffocate and confuse the listener. A register of reflective cellos and violins weaves in and out of this emotional vacuum adding to the sense of destruction and chaos. An atonal and violent style is used as a means of evoking heightened emotions and states of mind.
Seeds of Deception (This Life Mix) opens rapidly with a stretched contortion of organic percussion. Banks of intense static and processed frequencies create audio fog as they mingle with intense dronish reverberations. Live strings add to a strong feeling of suspicion and a sense of warning, as a preoccupied piano makes prescient comments.
The next five tracks chart a second ‘movement’ that evokes pain, memories, introspection, and a period of isolation.
The Little Green Box (Landscape Mix) melds melancholic strings and distorted synths to which recurring echoes and themes of piano and cello are added. The anger has passed leaving a growing sense of emptiness and detachment.
Sketch of Mythology (Interval at the Station Mix) sees a repetition of poignant piano notes over ever increasing distortion, as a complex rebound of drone shimmers in and out. Hidden conversations are revealed, intensity grows as serious questions are asked in order to establish a way of coping.
Eemina (Unpopular Culture Mix) blends the acoustic footprint of a children’s playground with glimpses of water, mutated instruments, and choirs. A low pitched rumble fuses with rattles, chimes and crackles. A sense of intense soul-searching is created.
Florian (Not in My Back Yard Mix) presents dense undercurrents of echoes, chimes and atmospheric emotion drivers. A steady drone warbles as layers of distortion and interference vie for position. An edgy sense of recovery gains momentum, but a warning to learn the lessons of the past is prominent.
Thoughts in the Head (Cassiopea Mix) employs dense layers of textural effects and decay. A sober, yet warm and comforting, drone signals an agreed sense of new understanding may be possible. The worst is over; forgiveness enters a heart, a progression will bring its own reward.
The last four tracks form a third and final ‘movement’. A sense of renewal, rebirth or spiritual growth is delivered in spades.
Starfish Seastar (The Water Table Mix) continues with the intense and voluminous style techniques heard thus far, but a new sense of nurture and nature enters the fray. An indication of Primordial life itself beginning in the oceans becomes a metaphor for self development.
Defining Space (Colour Space Mix) develops a demonstrative drone as dreamy new sounds are introduced as the flickering of a new era. A fresh and confident logic is starting to plot a new cosmic course as swathes of synth and instrumentation uplift the soul.
Garden of Secrets (Groups, Rings, Fields Mix) offers children’s voices, rich organics and warm soft synths to build an expansive and comforting sound of a human mind opening up to new dreams, desires and possibilities. Embracing echoes are used to remind us of the pain that has been endured. Emotive piano and sympathetic strings add to a feeling of new found compassion and personal growth.
The Making of a Revolution (Bounded Sequence Mix) welcomes us with a sedate reawakening of field noises. Cellos and violins offer camaraderie as a purposeful and proud drone indicates a new resolve and strength of character. A sense of confidence and resolution are apparent. An almost Nietzschean ‘will to power’ urges us to dare to live our lives once again. The cycle is complete and the chains that once made us prisoners of the past now disintegrate and fall as oxidised dust at our feet.
Hummingbird uses hard won self-knowledge to produce emotive musical majesty. This album is a sonic tour de force that documents an acute understanding of the modern European living experience, and also the story of a painful journey of self-discovery and reinvention. Beware though, this is no straight line music; it is neither obvious nor systematic. Tight associations, expressions of horror, spontaneous responses to injustices, these are the new histrionic flowers that lure Hummingbird to linger.
An essential release for fans of the genre.
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