“To me Broadcast was mainly glass and metal, large structures, the reverberant sounds of an empty city, most of it set at night. This one felt more like a view of that city from the surrounding dessert obscured by a red fog, with some day trips to the coast line.” So says Hyetal of his new album “Modern Worship”, just out on True Panther. Having been relatively quiet since the release of Broadcast in 2011, save for one 12″ as Velour with Julio Bashmore, his return is welcome. His is a fitting description of an album that is the perfect soundtrack to high-speed road chases and breakneck trips out of a suffocating city lifestyle. Eschewing the brooding, beatless intro of “Broadcast” and other albums of its ilk, “Modern Worship” blasts into life with the invigorating swirl of “Forefathers”. Driven by an arpeggiated riff that features from start to finish, it’s a primer for the album’s key points – bombastic 80s kicks, hazy, shifting synths and searing guitar lines. Barely stopping for breath, it carries on with the first of the album’s collaborations. “The City Is Ours” features Alison Garner of The Fauns, her shoegaze vocals a surprising fit with the careening percussion, yet blending perfectly with the wall-of-noise guitars. It says a lot when a drop to 125bpm feels like a drastic change in pace, but that’s exactly what “Northwest Passage” is. A beautiful dirge, it combines gorgeous yet indecipherable vocals from experimentalist Gwilym Gold with thunderous percussion and drifting, swirling synths. Swamped in reverb, it runs on pure emotion, a yearning, aching feel powering its very core. It’s easily the record’s standout track, yet the work doesn’t suffer for its placement at the centre of things.
Stream: Hyetal – Northwest Passage (True Panther Sounds)
Gold features again on “Left”, a gentle, sun-drenched number that acts as the perfect counterpoint to the more chaotic tracks that precede it. Foregrounding those hazy synths and Gold’s soft falsetto, it leaves the exuberant percussion to one side and shows Hyetal’s comfort with sounds that are more beautiful than brutal. “Lovers” sounds like vintage video-game music, the perfect soundtrack to Outrun or California Games, as barbed stacatto synths and 8-bit riffs abound over a tumultuous beat. “Jam The Network” follows a similar pattern, with a fizzing bassline and a glorious soaring upper register. The album closes not with a bang but with the two-fold beauty of the brief vignette “Cloud Bridge” and “Four Walls”, another track featuring Gold. Emotionally unrestrained, its chorus a cry of “hold me, even if you don’t want me” – a painful plea – it’s the perfect closer. Soft clicks and harmonies built of non-verbal vocals add a twilight feel, before a glistening refrain and scorched guitar echo into infinity. It could be said that this album suffers from an over-reliance on the same sonic palette, but at the same time this shows a producer with a singular consistency of vision. As successful working alone as with vocal collaborators, Hyetal has crafted a piece of work that bears repeated listens, and, most importantly, features some truly stellar songs.
Stream: Hyetal – Jam The Network (True Panther Sounds)
Hyetal – Modern Worship is out now on True Panther Sound. Buy here.