• Hrvatski - Swarm & Dither

    Reviewed by Marcus Scott (BBC.co.uk)

    Hrvatski - Swarm & Dither

    Known to his bank manager as Keith Fullerton Whitman, Hrvatski has produced his first full length album for Mike Paradinas' Planet-Mu label. Here's an artist with a scholarly understanding of sound and an ear for dissecting breaks like a musical scientist; thankfully he's also one with a slightly twisted, trashy sense of humour.

    On this mixed selection the gloves come off, as Hrvatski gives his own twist to virtually every strand of contemporary electronic music, remarkably keeping it fairly cohesive over the albums length. Overall it does suffer a little from a virtuosity and unwillingness to stick to the subject, much like a very clever but bored school kid. He also occasionally covers areas better handled by Aphex Twin, but it still left me wanting more.

    The album kicks off with "vatstep dsp", which does a jungle-ragga thing over Prince Jammy's famous sleng teng bassline with a silly Macintosh "vocalwriter" voice doing the toasting, before drifting through track two into an autumnal folk meets Fennesz take on the Rolling Stones' "Painted Black".

    It's notable that Hrvatski is something of a break connoisseur; "ewc4" shoots in with a death metal guitar and 'amen' break rush before the combination is edited down to a metronomic tattoo, like a kind of instant gratification Steve Reich, which gently dissolves into soft Rhodes tones.

    It's the second half of the album which displays a deeper more thoughtful side; "Anesthetise thineself" is made from discrete field recordings as an abstract counterpoint to some gentle Labradford-like minor key instrumentation. It's as if the melodies are trying to express the longing buried in the abstracted moments frozen in the field recordings.

    "Carrots" cleverly fuses folksy guitar and oboe into a take no prisoners hoover rave bassline, making the combination oddly more emotive. The album finishes with a jaunty math rock cover of swedish band "trad gras och steners" tegenborg.

    It feels a little out of place, somehow betraying the confident emotional expression of the previous few tracks. However, the ending of a minutes worth of held organ and guitar chords reminiscent of Terry Riley is violently cut off just as your can happily indulge your ears, it could be pointing in a future direction. Maybe next time he'll allow some indulgence for a little longer.

<< Back to reviews