Of all the records I managed to get my grubby little hands on last year, one of the best was Lukas Nystrand Von Unge’s release on Swedish Label Studio Barnhus. In fact, not only was it a record I listened to over and over again, but it’s opening track, Formodligen, was probably my tune of the year. A skewed vocal sample, wondering bass, lo-fi tribal drums and beautifully harmonious synths managed to sound like they had all come from different records to form a bizarre one-off super-sound experiment before being hired to provide the theme tune to a central European children’s show. It was magic, a huge and wonky track that seemed to drift in an out of reality, leaving you wondering if you had really heard it, or dreamt it.
Simon Haydo’s new release on Barnhus, I Watch Them All As They Fall, is a very different creature, whilst retaining the sparking left of centre ethos that has served the label so well in the past. There is less in the way of child-like wonder, but still plenty of playfulness across four tracks that jump into a world of analogue adventures. The A side presents a pair of tracks, sounding a like a broadcast from an ageing communication satellite taken over by a mischievous and disembodied alien intelligence. The Territories Marked, which kicks the EP off, is a deceptively busy burst of bleeps and squeals, with Haydo seemingly taking delight in free-styling the sound of sentient machines chatting to each other. Partner in crime, Keep Your Distance, hails from a similar part of the cosmos, but with a more noticeable Acid vibe, as though those same sentient machines have come up with a plan of action. It prowls and pounces, growing more confident with each hiss and whirr of static and thunk of bass.
The B Side opener, The Strain Is Too Much, continues with the same theme, and much the same sonic palette, but seems somehow more certain of itself. It rolls along, picking up steam whilst scaring itself silly with whistle blasts of analogue weirdness. The last tune, Knowing No More, is probably the most fully formed of all four tracks, sounding like the machines have learned their lessons. It builds, as the other do, on a chunky beat, directed by a bass that stands for no nonsense, but seems to add some extra spark. It’s no less extraterrestrial than the others, but seems more comfortable communicating with us.
I Watch Them All As They Fall won’t be an easy record to love if your not the sort of person who comes ready primed for what is really a form of abstract experimentalism. There are no hooks – just sounds allowed to do their thing without having to worry about getting back in time for a breakdown or chorus. But that, I think, is the beauty of it. There are a lot of Techno tunes around just now that deliver more conventional – and rather boring – thrills. Simon Haydo has delivered a blast of music that shows how warm and playful audio madness can be. It might not be the most obvious record for the feet, but for the mind – and the spirit – it’ll get you going just as surely. Excellent stuff.