Torn Heat EP






Hanetration, the mysterious London-based producer is back with another EP, and once again he is generous enough to give it away for free at his Bandcamp page for your downloading pleasure. As his debut in form of the Tenth Oar EP already showed, he is a versatile and skilled producer, meshing chopped vocals with bagpipes and hazy synth washes with sine wave extravaganzas. The Torn Heat EP is different, though its anagram (Tenth Oar = Torn Heat) and almost identical front cover suggest otherwise. And yet it is much more focused on warmth and polyphonous sound structures in major, but behind the curtains, it presents itself as a bubbling danger zone with many a cacophonous note scattered in-between the presumably easy-to-digest dioramas. The typical Glitch elements – fizzles, splutters, clicks and pops – are reduced to a minimum, as Hanetration moves into legato territories, with majestic and solemn sound streams playing the most important role on each of his four tracks. Two of his arrangements, interestingly enough, are proper Ambient tracks sans beats, while the other two tracks inject a dose of rhythmic percussion and beats, but in a non-disturbing, careful and iridescent way, so there's no earth-shattering bass drum involved at all. Still, the Torn Heat EP is quite a beast nevertheless, and I invite you to read much more detailed thoughts about each of its four tracks below.

Right from the get-go, it becomes clear that Hanetration chose his track titles as careful as usual. They're poignant to the maximum, and incredibly fulminant and forceful. The opener
Jurassic proves this point splendidly, though it isn't as thunderous as its mighty title implies, but actually full of warmth: blurred and fuzzy static noise streams waft gently in the background, only to be perturbed by retro-futuristic cybersaurs which snore, sneeze and scream astonishingly euphonious sine waves of blithe. Harshness? None. Glitch particles? Nil. The mood shifts into ecclesial-ethereal realms shortly thereafter thanks to the inclusion of a faux-organ, melancholic synth streams of the balmy kind and a silky knuckle beat. The aforementioned sauropods are returning occasionally in the last 45 seconds, now delivering a shimmering, upwards spiraling tone ladder that sounds as cozy as it injects vivacious colors to the mix. And that's it. No bile or related acidified fluids are floating by, nor is the atmosphere dusky or apocalyptic. It's Hanetration's most accessible song, and while such a description makes many a listener shiver, as it implies a formerly eclectic artist having jumped the shark, let me assure you this is not the case here! The fragility is missing, but the thermal heat is a welcome addition for those who are put off by murky Glitchscapes. It's really no coincidence that the EP contains the term heat in its title.

Next on the agenda is
Splinter, and once more does its title imply sawtooth-loaded virtual realities which aren't met by the actual composition; the organ-like, sine wave-infused, AM radio wave-evoking superimposition returns and brings warmth and tranquility with it. However, there's a brazen Trip Hop beat attached to it with many frizzling splutters, didgeridoo-y stabs and muffled claps. The mellow organ waves are shifting and changing their characteristic tonalities, whirring almost mellifluously in juxtaposition to the beat on the forefront. While Splinter does contain a potential Dark Ambient setting due to its multilayered organs, such a genre-related feeling is only perceptible in the form of microscopic scents on the first half of the track. The second half, though, augments the energy and dominance of them, and since the percussion is also boosted in tandem with the organs, this formerly heart-warming track becomes a different critter in the end. Bubbling wind gusts and dissonant chords round off the frantic atmosphere, but because of the Trip Hop beats which schlep themselves forward, these winds remain the calm anchors of Splinter.

Sixth is the third track of the EP and a proper, beatless Ambient concoction. If you expect multitextured synth washes in the Pop Ambient vein, you will be disappointed, for Hanetration decides to decrease the raw power and vibrant nature of the synths that were so immediate and generously bolstered in the two tracks before it. An almost claustrophobic room is aurally painted with the help of 8-bit legato synth strings. Their different reverb and sustain phases resonate with the pitch-black, dry distance, and at times the listener seems to be thrown into a Horror B-movie à la John Carpenter, as the synths have that certain 80's feeling. The tone sequences are contingent and arbitrarily placed, never does the listener know which note is to follow the preceding one. If there is one particular production skill to be found in here, it's the incessant shift between an omnipresent gloominess of doom and an equally sinister motif of brightness complete with harmonies in major. The intentions of Sixth are never clear, and while it's easy to pinpoint the genre of this construction – something in-between a clinical Dark Ambient outing and a sepia-toned retro melancholy –, it's definitely the weakest track of the EP, its level of attraction wearing thin nowadays even when you're considering the deliberately reduced wastelands of the Glitch genre. I think wastelands is a pretty good term, and then it is not: the intimacy is soul-crushing, the created room tiny and small, the shifting mood unbearable. An arrangement for the strong-minded Ambient fans one of Hanetration's rare – possibly the only – missteps. I'm a sucker for retroscapes, but this is too much for me… and too less at the same time. The therapeutic diagnosis as delivered by Sixth: I'm too weak.

The final piece of the EP is called
Flicker and is also the longest offering with almost six-and-a-half minutes of warped Space-Age reminiscences. It is also a clear-cut connecting factor to Hanetration's Tenth Oar EP, specifically to its final track Wreck, which presents the same mood with the same ingredients. The organic feel of Flicker's ambience is still the driving factor of its nexus, consisting of a two-second loop of bumblebees from outer space complete with admixed sine waves, warped drones and a theremin-like meowing. Even though there are no beats attached to the mix, it is the twofold ambiguity that makes this track so haunting: its skeleton or base frame is presumably easy to detect, and yet varied enough to not fall into the minimal trap – the interspersed plinking melody shortly before the fourth minute only adds to this observation. Secondly, the sound waves are mollifying and inviting, but also pressuring and intimidating, as things aren't as harmonious as they seem. There's an ubiquitous uneasiness intertwined, as the mélange moves into spectral realms. Even the two final notes of Flicker inherit the ambiguity: they are gelid and misty at the same time, somehow uplifting but ultimately indecisive and hard to grasp, as if they want to hide from an exact description.

It is after the fourth track that I realized how poignant the title of Hanetration's latest work really is: the
Torn Heat EP tears the sources of heat and comforting mellowness apart and reassembles them, now in the form of sine waves or even primal cylon-esque screams as their carriers. While the Tenth Oar EP can now in hindsight be interpreted as a showcase EP with various Glitch styles, fleeting visits into Far Eastern realms and staccato chops of human voice samples, the Torn Heat EP provides a much more stringent listening experience with enough variety to not be narrowed down to a certain trick, skit or gut feeling. The cyber cries of Jurassic are equally intimidating and balmy, with the revved up volume of the organ washes on Splinter being even more frightening than the imagined cybervores. The ambience of Sixth is a personal let-down for me, way too reduced, spartan and retro to be successful, but maybe its real overarching sense is to depict a claustrophobic-introverted moment of forced peace. If this is your kind of music and you're up for a small glimpse into a clinical Dark Ambient void that camouflages its real nucleus with occasionally saccharine particles, then Sixth might even be the best track of the quartet. The final Flicker is a sine wave track par excellence and harks back to the AM radio frequency adventures of the Tenth Oar EP, as fans of Hanetration will be happy to note. Since this EP is available for free, there cannot, will not, must not be anything wrong with it in terms of the price-performance ratio. My favorite is Jurassic just because of its original structure. Even if its title was entirely different, I'm sure I would have noted the scream-like eruptions and would have linked them to robotic-cylon entities. The Torn Heat EP is a successful follow-up and strongly recommended to Glitch fans, even though there are no glacial molecules and crystalline structures involved. At the end of the day, this is a Glitch EP nonetheless – with added heat.




Ambient Review 122: Hanetration – Torn Heat EP (2012). Originally published on Sep. 12, 2012 at AmbientExotica.com.