Article by KevW
There have been many artists trying to buck the trend of continuous social media posting and uploading unfinished demos onto SoundCloud so the public get to hear and see them warts and all. Being enigmatic can be just as effective in generating interest, especially if, like us, you're a closet Columbo and want to join the dots and get to the bottom of things. We first heard hd hausmann when 'old satellites' was put online earlier this year, but it wasn't until hearing debut album 'wring the moisture from the surf' that the non-musical side of things got interesting. The very name is misleading, as it implies a solo artist, when really this is a band, but that's readily admitted. The press release also describes them as "geographically disparate", although their SoundCloud page has them located in London. The band members don't reveal their real names, instead just going on initials, and according to Facebook there are eleven of them.
The first thought when listening to the album was that they sounded an awful lot like The Sound Of Confusion favourites Grass House, a band who themselves are apparently working on a second album. Digging deeper, we find that "LP", the main songwriter behind hd hausmann is none other than Grass House's Liam Palmer, so our thoughts were correct and part of the mystery is solved. Being originally from Yorkshire, this goes some way to explaining the geography quote too. Really, as far as the music goes, there's no need to discover much more - or even as much as we've been able to - because it's the songs, not the background, on which the album should be judged. The same deep, commanding vocals become the focal point of each track, but the music itself is robust and atmospheric, as well as sounding pretty immense without the need for any histrionics or studio pyrotechnics. It's a compelling collection to say the least.
It's the gargantuan, almost menacing slow-burning earthquake of 'old satellites' that gets the album underway and it impresses in terms of ambition and execution. Crafting such a potent song isn't easy, but it's not alone. The electronic clatter of the title-track is comparatively stripped back a first, with LP's deep tones carrying the song, but gradually swarming noise worms its way in and a moody aura is created once more. 'in our wake' is similarly bare at first and could have been a simple acoustic track. Then more instrumentation and vocals are introduced gradually and it culminates in something not low on grandeur; at just two and a half minutes long, it's all over too quickly. The moodiest is left until last, as LP sings "oh let me, I will become" in an almost threatening way on 'i am here and i am cold in the water', the most ominous of these eight songs and one that seems built to end the album.
It's not quite all doom and gloom. 'an island without' is a touch breezier and lighter, yet it's hardly daytime Radio 2 fodder, but the strummed guitar and twinkling electronics do brighten the tone, if only a little. There's still a wall of distortion lurking in the background and dark, growling vocals. More upbeat still is 'the loveliest ocean' which borders on being a more regular alt-rock song with melodies that are perhaps more catchy. That said, the ambiance of the record doesn't change, and this is no summery pop blast, but it might provide more casual listeners a gateway into the world of hd hausmann. Likewise, 'as the world lays down' is pretty instant, especially once it really gets going. Tom Waits stopped doing anything remotely poppy a long time ago, but if he still did it might sound a bit like this. 'wring the moisture from the surf' is a record with much depth and reveals more with each play; something that's generally the mark of an album that will stand the test of time. Forget of any mystery surrounding the band, there's more than enough intrigue and fascination to be found in their music.
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