Hessien :: Your Empire, In Decline (The Long Story Recording Company)

Evocative scaping of a generally melancholic cast, Hessien’s mix of air and substance uniting the newer ambient waves.

Hessien:: Your Empire, In Decline

Your Empire, In Decline sees igloo review regular, Tim Martin (Maps and Diagrams, Atlantis), renew exchange with Charles Sage (y0t0, Rothko Chapel), last outing for their Hessien vehicle being Calcifer (Sound in Silence) back in 2013. It marks a first release for The Long Story Recording Company, a new micro-label sprung from the ashes of Twice Removed, assembling Hessien pieces previously unreleased and lost-in-compilation into a coherent album, their first since Home Is Where The Ghost Is (Handstitched*, 2010).

Your Empire, In Decline sees Hessien weave starry guitarry ambient drone with grainy electro-acoustic textures, plying an oneiric trade between recursive motifs and allusive rhythm—not as in ‘beats’ but as in sequential motion set up with the duo deploying delay in a style harking back to :zoviet*france: with their prescient ’80s effects experiments (good spot from Vital Weekly vet, FdW) that prefigured the Age of The Loop. Most compelling exhibit here is “Hiding A Light,” then again on the steady-state kinesis and discreet Reichian minimalist inflections of “Army of David.” Elsewhere a hazy trail of interstellar overdrive is blazed with guitar variously reverbed, layered, distortion-teetering—from the more mellifluous “Prometheus” to the gruzzier “Man Overboard.” Guitars glide on soft delay/reverb currents, conscious of an undertow—albeit only pronounced on a couple of narrow static-ridden passages in an otherwise serene space making minor perturbation, dissonance and deeper grain hinting at something beyond. The ragbag tag ‘Ambient drone’ widely applied to such specimens merits some unpacking in regard to Your Empire…. Quiet music this is not, and ‘Ambient’ here is indicative of a tendency to put an emphasis on tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure or rhythm.’ And ‘Drone’ is not a matter of methodology or metaphysics (cf. Young / Niblock / Radigue), more the sustained tone branch of minimalism,’ seeking psycho-activity from timbrality in stasis, eschewing compositional progression imperatives. While exploring the sub-genre interface, some of Hessien’s sound here might come from elements distilled from ‘post-rock,’ with rock sifted out, and alluvium left for a certain grit that’s welcome after a slew of new age and post-classical prissiness enmiring late-period ambient drone.

Overall, Your Empire… is evocative scaping of a generally melancholic cast, Hessien’s mix of air and substance uniting the newer ambient waves of, say, a Tim Hecker or a Pausal and the old of Fripp & Eno and Cluster. Mark Kuykendall (Unknown Tone RecordsThe New Honey Shade) masters with a depth and heft that brings out every facet of their sound.

Your Empire, In Decline is available on The Long Story Recording Company.

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