- Steve Hauschildt dissolves ambient and electronica into a serene equilibrium.
- Steve Hauschildt has always been interested in tension, and in occupying the space between seemingly oppositional ideals. He positions his music between the trendy and the avant-garde, the ordered and the disorganized, the poles of precise electronic rhythms and resonant drone choirs that sidestep beats altogether. He built his solo career by reworking the established musical style of his former band, Emeralds, into something entirely his own. Beginning with 2012's Tragedy & Geometry, Hauschildt took looping electronics into glistening soundscapes that were at once sweepingly ambitious and carefully refined. 2015's Where All Is Fled and 2016's Strands saw him flitting between moments of sublime ambient and minimal synths in the vein of Manuel Göttsching. This tension between rhythmic complexity and broad, expressive textures in ambient sound has come to define Hauschildt's solo output.
On Dissolvi, Hauschildt is looking for relief. The album's title, a reference to St. Paul's phrase "cupio dissolvi" in the New Testament, reflects the desire for dissolution into God ("cupio" meaning "I wish," and "dissolvi," "to be dissolved"). Paul was expressing the primary concern of Christian mysticism: to cleave to God in a moment of total ecstasy, escaping the tension between the sacred and the profane by obliterating the self, and the connection with mortality. Hauschildt's desire for musical dissolution, while not as literally spiritual as Paul's, follows a similar logic. On Dissolvi, he avoids tension by adhering to a specific brand of ambient-inspired synth composition. Whereas ambient was at the fore on Strands, Hauschildt's minimal electronica here works its way into those ambient soundscapes and offers a singularly calm fusion of both genres. No longer caught between oppositional impulses, Hauschildt seamlessly channels freeform ambient and regimented synth tones into the same space, and produces some of his most cohesive, conceptually sound work to date.
The opener, "M Path," sets the tone, sending waves of synth oscillations in every direction like subatomic particles in an accelerator. There's grit in these sounds, too. Gone are the pristine, shimmering rainbows of Strands and Where All Is Fled. Instead, the sounds on "M Path" and synth-driven tracks like "Phantox" and "Alienself" are heard through a veil, inflected with ambient fuzz that colors the sound without obscuring it.
The real highlights, though, are in Hauschildt's experiments with the human voice. On "Saccade," vocals from Julianna Barwick slide in between the beats, and work to temper the machine-like regularity of Hauschildt's rhythms. "Lyngr" is a tapestry of anonymous voices, anchored by delicate, glittering electronic constellations. The result is a more restful sound, where gentle harmonies and pulsing synths are in equilibrium. If there's a downside to Hauschildt's method, it's that tracks like "Phantox" and "Aroid" feel almost hollow next to "Saccade," 'Syncope" and "Lyngr." Even as Hauschildt chases that desire for relief and escape via dissolution, there will always be that human heart at the center of his sound—no longer a tension, but a careful balance between the organic and the artificial.
01. M Path
03. Saccade feat. Julianna Barwick
06. Syncope feat. GABI