ambient electronic electronic electronica review synth

Hannes Kretzer – Species Review

What does intricate electronica sound like without the drums?

What does Hannes Kretzer sound like?

If someone wanted to go clubbing but they left their drum machine at home.

The review of Hannes Kretzer – Species

Being described as ‘electronic’ is suitably vague but it covers a multitude of sounds and sins. Hannes Kretzner fits electronic’s more artistic side. It’s not about the beats – indeed most of the album doesn’t have any. Instead, Hannes uses synths to shape-shifting plucky pulsating melodies into existence.

photo of Hannes Kretzer
Hannes Kretzer

The album kicks off with the most mainstream piece ‘Mountain Queen’. It has a quick rolling cymbal run that pedals at speed over delicate kick drums and muted synths. It’s a track that threatens to explode into hardcore techno at any moment but keeps things dense, taught and murky. With the mood, we think that the album might be quite dark and moody but Hannes is more interested in transitioning between motions. With the opener, it is about waking a beast and watching it reach full speed. The rest of the tracks can be characterised as beasts too. ‘Euphoria’ is what melodic trance music sounds like without drums. Its warm, syrupy keyboards hum or pop like tiny fireworks with reassuring confidence. Happy, unbound and carefree, it is light on its feet but also quite serene. Almost a sister song is ‘Binural Cyclops’ which takes the same idea, slows it down and tape warps the pads and detuned the melody. What previously felt warm now gives dystopian hues and when a kickdrum throbs the entire second half along, the track really hits its stride. In a typical story as old as time, it’s as if two siblings share the same DNA but have very contrasting personalities.

Pitch-shifted arpeggiators and wiry cyberpunk synths lead the way in the atmospheric ‘Exo’. Here Hannes Kretzer leans into a full dystopian feels with frazzled bass synths, oscillating razor runs and a restless industrial synergy. It is industrial, heavy and roughly textured. ‘Breeze’ places those same oscillating modular synths bare and works almost exclusively with just two sounds. The two frequency drones shift and wriggle at different speeds and intensities like musical snakes. Melody is here and present, especially when the frequencies build into cinematic chaos, but it is as much about the release of the song’s tension as it is the melody. The track is also immensely satisfying to listen to as the bubbling noises slow to a cranking crawl and then cascade at speed. Once again, I feel like Hannes is making a comment on siblings or nature vs nurture. Songs sound paired to give opposing stories. This leaves us with the tranquil almost gamelan tones of ‘Aero’ to close the album. Paired with light percussion and breezy Sci-fi synths, the piece is as lush as it is soothing. This is a song I can play on repeat for a good 30 minutes and be hypnotised by how glassy and hazy it is.

Think Caribou meets Heinali and they’ve forgotten their drum machine and that’s Hannes Kretzer. For an electronic artist to actively create rhythm without drums for most of an album is a brave but rewarding choice. Your ears are treated to all kinds of intricate melodies that evoke both a soothing and a cyberpunk feel. Hannes has worked wonders to to make it all sound so effortless too and that’s what makes an unusual premise more approachable for the masses.

Recommended track: Euphoria

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Hannes Kretzer - Species



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