Disrupted EP






Describing someone as filthy is an affront. Describing something as filthy, especially so an artifact of the electronic subgenre called Glitch, however, is a compliment. Such a feat was delivered by the Hong Kong-based Glitchmeister called Heivard. In the spring of 2012, he unchained his four-track Flows EP on the Fwonk netlabel, a seemingly harmless work with the expected gelid particles and limewashed sine waves. Little did I know that the progression of this EP turned things around and caused quite a stir whose aftermath gives me goosebumps to this day: the EP got much darker, increasingly cavernous and more ferocious in each consecutive song. The follow-up, called Disrupted EP, released in September 2012 on the Inside Outside netlabel under a Creative Commons license and available to download for free, does not sound all too balmy either, especially so when you consider its title. However, this assertion is wrong, and it seems in retrospect as if Heivard mixed up the names of both EP's, for it is the Disrupted EP that flows in a silkier fashion than its predecessor thanks to the many revved up synth bolsters and similar washes. Heivard otherwise remains true to his style, i.e. maintains a certain remoteness or aloofness, adds eclectic melodies and decorates them with snare drum-accentuated beat structures. Disrupted EP is one of those synergetic works whose Ambient-specific ingredients are not always on the forefront, but whatever the current phase of a song is, it is always soothing enough to tag it with the overarching Glitch label.


And off the EP goes with a lovely ditty called RIP. Launching with a blue-tinged alien-esque organic breath of iciness full of polar pulses and oscillating haze structures, a mean-spirited beat is dropped and changes the freezing antrum into a klaxon string-fueled sirenade of fear. An accompanying monotonous drone wafts around the snares, all the while the artificial brazen streams and the downwards-spiraling Space-Age glitters of mystery continue to scintillate. The entanglement of the layers is top-notch, no fissure is allowed to cause cracks. RIP is hence a Glitch-Ambient hybrid with a tense but accessible setting. No piercing ingredient is allowed to disturb the balance, and while the siren-esque structure and the warbled glissando whistles can be burdensome and frightening, their slowly rising tension is successfully injected into the vault-like arrangement. While tracks like Broken Mirrors and Aesthetic Violence off the artist's Flowing EP comprised of dark and sinister vaults, RIP presents a wondrous snow cave with subzero temperatures and lurking critters behind the frozen dripstones. It is a great opener that is displaced by the six minutes long Smoke, a similarly light blue breakbeat frame which is filled with filtered synth fogs that waft ferociously in the distance. Horn-evoking acid pads and two differing versions of two-note bass melodies provide the time-lapsing aorta, but once the beat stands still and is mute, it is the frantically bubbling synth gales that are the only audible source. The alternative take of the two-note bass melody is a curious source of warmth, relatively dry and stable. Its luminescence is so strong that it not only lessens the coldness of this track, but also provides a strong feeling of playfulness and control, the latter of which is nowhere to be found in the organically pulsating synth clouds.


The almost five minutes long Shine follows, and since its title is as commonplace as it is auspicious, one wonders whether Heivard's sounds lighten up. Well, they don't. This is his sine frequency-filled Glitch anthem. It does shine. In ashen colors of toxicity. The beginning is already exciting, starting in medias res with the breakbeat layer intact, underpinned by electric guitar-like gusts of warmth. If the track continued like this, it would have been a distantly funky theme. The Hong Kong-based musician, however, does something entirely else and injects a claustrophobic, Rave-resembling looped tone sequence that can be best described as madness. The pallid textures of the laughter-like cylon-oid cheekiness are entirely artificial, and the ensuing glockenspiel-resembling electric piano glistens through the enigmatic layers. The bass melody is wonky. Shine's title is a tomfoolery, but the quirky-crestfallen duality of its soundscape is definitely serious and evokes memories of rather genteel Rave tracks of the early 90's. The layers sound once more balmy and are altogether built with the same aural color palette, making this an deeply disconcerting, but by no means threatening pandemonium. The final track is fittingly called Ice, and to be honest, all of the previous tracks would have deserved this name as well. In a weirdly twisted fate, the track that is actually called Ice turns out to be the warmest concoction of them all! As soon as the track starts, a thick wall of heater room-inducing radiator synth drones is activated. Additional seraphic cyber chords gyrate around their nuclei, a soft shaker-accompanied beat functions as a marker for the passing of time, and both the galactic crystal shards and the electric guitar-simulating acid pads try to live up to the title. But the thermal heat of the drones is too strong, and even though they reside in warmer climes, they are of course not euphonious rather than inapproachable and towering. Once an ancillary bass melody is put into the legato gallimaufry, the Rave-like wonky weirdness expectedly increases. Ice ends with a fade-out of the machine-like drones… and the consecutive wealth of warmth.


Heivard's Disrupted EP is torn between the genres, but is not overly mercurial. It presents a bustling fusion of many genres. One thing is for sure: this is no proper Glitch artifact anymore. It is much mellower, a tad friendlier or even outright benign in the end without ever featuring a euphonious tone in major! The implied anger, the forceful impetus of dark matter pads and the cryptic coves in post-apocalyptic surroundings were equipollent settings in the artist's Flows EP, but are entirely neglected here. A soft veil or moiré of haziness and gently bubbling synth streams have intercepted the formerly dark realms and do now succeed with textural qualities that are anything but luring. The added breakbeat is neither kitschy, nor baneful or soul-crushing. It complements the crystalline structures perfectly and increases the liveliness. Believe it or not, but the Disrupted EP has much more in common with the synth-heavy Detroit genre than the next of kin genres à la Clicks & Cuts, IDM or Glitch. I have mentioned the tense sirens and breathing airflows of RIP, the clash of the misty synth clouds with rather playful bass melodies of Smoke, the cheeky Rave patterns which reign over Shine as well as Ice's heater-filled coves. Variety ensues, but all four compositions have something in common besides their cohesive textures and surfaces, and that is yet again their cavernous wideness. The listener is encapsulated in vaults, and while the beat structures are bone-dry and without any echoes, the whirring mists and spiraling waves penetrate the New Age genre ever so slightly and replace these whimsical characteristic traits into blue-colored realms. The cover says it all, it is truly in sync with the music. Since this release is available for free and still Glitch-focused enough – with an ethereal dreaminess of the shadier kind as an added bonus – to consume it as an Ambient release, I can only praise the hell out of it. The Flows EP features the greater variety, some truly badass bass grinders and Glitch specks, but the Disrupted EP is more skillfully balanced overall and succeeds in offering a similarly varied potpourri with the reoccurrence of similarly tinged ingredients. I am really hooked and look forward to hearing the next installment of Heivard's skills.



Further listening:
You can listen to Heivard's Disrupted EP at SoundCloud or download it for free at Inside Outside Records.




Ambient Review 190: Heivard – Disrupted EP (2012). Originally published on Mar. 6, 2013 at AmbientExotica.com.