- Brian Leeds explores nightmarish soundscapes and evocative sonic textures.
- It didn't take long for Brian Leeds to cement his place as one of the most important ambient artists of the past decade. Under the aliases Huerco S. and Pendant, the American producer crafts sonic worlds that are simultaneously queasy and enchanting. Rising to prominence at the forefront of the outsider house scene, he ditched dance music in favor of featherweight soundscaping. His latest as Pendant, To All Sides They Will Stretch Out Their Hands, finds him alternating between pools of white noise and unsettling sound collages. At its headiest, it brings to mind the ominous whispering of a sleep paralysis demon.
It might be difficult for the casual listener to distinguish between Leeds' two aliases. Both Huerco S. and Pendant embrace lengthy, droning arrangements that are usually subtle and typically repetitive. However, where Huerco S. albums play like fever dream lullabies, Leeds' work as Pendant is nocturnal and inky. Glistening and hypnotic, 2018's Make Me Know You Sweet LP is tame compared to this new Pendant record. The ominous sounds and dark atmosphere remind me of a disconcerting experience I had driving through a pitch-black state forest in Central Oregon last autumn.
The record's back half is its most intense. "The Story Of My Ancestor The River" is built on dissonant rhythms that sound like stones clacking around in a washing machine. "The Poor Boy And His Mud Ponies" is a bit more ethereal, but still off-putting, centered around an aloof shuffle that makes me imagine debris colliding in outer space. The most provocative tracks on the album marry the nightmarish tendencies of Shackleton and the post-musique concrète techno of Vladislav Delay.
While To All Sides They Will Stretch Out Their Hands is less laid-back than its predecessor, it's not all doom and gloom. The opener, "Dream Song Of The Woman," is built on languid synthesizers, evoking the hum of an airplane engine from the inside of the cabin. Best of all, the 17-minute "Sometimes I Go About Pitying Myself While I Am Carried By The Wind Across The Sky" blends clicks and pops with subdued FM synthesizer flourishes. Leeds' latest never lets you get too comfortable, but every moment of peculiarity is balanced out by another that feels earthly and tangible.
As a whole, To All Sides They Will Stretch Out Their Hands is a surprising pivot for Leeds. It's reminiscent of his 2013 Huerco S. release Colonial Patterns, which was splattered, random and mesmerizing. "I kind of look at myself almost as a collagist more than an actual composer, especially in the way these sounds aren't necessarily all synthesised, with them being recontextualised from previous samples or something like that," he said in a recent interview with Dummy Mag. With this quote in mind, it becomes easier to pinpoint the similarities between his older work and his latest as Pendant. Traversing both familiar and uneasy aural landscapes, To All Sides They Will Stretch Out Their Hands is some of his darkest output to date.
01. Dream Song Of The Woman
02. In The Great Night My Heart Will Go Out
03. Formula To Attract Affections
04. The Story Of My Ancestor The River
05. The Poor Boy And The Mud Ponies
06. Sometimes I Go About Pitying Myself While I Am Carried By The Wind Across The Sky