A midnight ritual for the weirdo inside all of us
It isn’t often I can genuinely say ‘I’ve not heard anything quite like this’ but I can certainly say this about Sreym Hctim. There are artists that channel a similar dark, mysterious and malevolent vibe but what sets Hctim apart is the way how the music and instrumentation pull together.
‘Turn Tail’ revels in melodic percussion. Mbira’s, harps and all kinds of wooden percussion are thrown into the mix to create an ancient but playful sound. As you’ll find with the opening track ‘Jigsaw Piece Flaw’, it lends itself to sounding mystical, Eastern but also quite childlike. It is akin to a haunted playground. Then Sreym Hctim begins to sing very quietly underneath all the music. It is unsettling chaos around the voice but often there is one or two instruments that are melodic or sympathetic enough to feel soft and soothing. The end result is an absolute rollercoaster that reminds me of old Japanese ghost tales.
Be it the marching pianos of the opener, the guzheng sounding harp in ‘How To Break A Circle’ or the furious sho samples in ‘Lockers’, each track has its own warped identity. ‘Armadillo’ for example feels like its creeping towards you out of a radio frequency. Sreym whispers elongated words as the frequency squeaks and other instruments pluck and detune around him. After three tracks of building tension, this feels like a cathartic outpouring of mourning and tension. This then rolls into the finale ‘Curfew Calls’ which feels like a Kabuki celebration for demons. It is the most song structured piece on the album, full of big melodies, a beautiful tongue drum and tolling bells as the circus and rituals wrap up.
Fans of darkwave, creepy electronica and experimental dark ambient will absolutely adore this. The mesh of cultures, ideas, genres and tones is stunning. I think I may have found my complete leftfield experimental EP of 2020! Highly recommended for us weirdos of the music world.
Recommended track: How To Break A Circle
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