The way things are going just now 2014 will perhaps be remembered as the year of the album, and not just because a certain Cornish producer has decided to grace us with his presence for the first time in many years. Frankly there have been too many for me to count. Some have been great, some not so great. Regardless, it has been interesting to see the re-emergence of the Long Player into the land of the 12″.
Herva’s début LP for Dutch label Delsin manages to be fairly faithful to the LP format whilst screwing with the concept slightly. Really it feels like two different albums that have been mashed into the same sleeve. Traditionally this should mean we get a couple of decent tracks, a couple of concept pieces and a lot of filler but Herva has managed the rare trick of getting each half feeling as important as the other.
I’ve been talking about this album to whoever will listen for a couple of weeks. I’ve been through it a few times and although the wow factor that always impresses you on a first listen has faded slightly, the sense of an artist trying to do something a little bit different remains. I can’t pretend to liking it quite as much as I first thought but there is plenty across the 12 tracks that resonates with me, and enough to make me believe Herva’s stated intention of doing something other than simply work within the established paradigms that Chicago and Detroit music provide. In truth there is plenty of music out there these days that’s moved on from those blueprints; What is more difficult, I think, is to write what is essentially House music that comes at the genre from a truly fresh angle.
Instant Broadcast, as I said, can be broadly viewed as being in two parts. The first is a collection of musical vignettes that are rich with aquatic textures and liquid, warped beats. The grooves in these pieces are slight, no more than additional fibres for the sonic tapestry. Tracks like 01(Edit) are closer to My Bloody Valentine and that sort of early nineties experimental Sound Rock than any contemporary Electronica. Others, Spotlight (Music at Subway) for example, have the feel of field recordings squashed until they achieve a pleasing shape. As examples of experimentia they’re mostly successful, very much anti-House, but sometimes suffering from a feeling of being a little bit too knowing.
The second half is far closer to House music as we know it, except that instead of any traditional take on the genre he shares common ground with some of the rougher and more out-there members of the gang. And the Crunch Goes On is a skipping groove that echoes the skewed take on the genre the likes of Michael Ferragosto or Studio Barnhus’ Lukas Nystrand Von Unge tend to work in – corking, lunging music and warm yet twisted samples that take you to nowhere you really recognise. Others like No Way Out or Pitch Business have the demented fairground glee of Rave coming together with early ambient house, like a chilled Altern8 recording in a fish tank. Best of all is Slam The Laptop, a pounding, cheeky number thick with dissolving bass and not a hell of a lot else except a huge kick drum and a drizzle of percussion plus a little huffing vocal at the tail. It’s a belter of a tune. One of my favourites of the year so far.
As an album it’s uneven but even in its less certain moments there is plenty to get excited about. Music that is more experimental in nature tends not to be so easy on the ear – that’s its nature – but when Herva brings together that nous with a bit more purpose the whole thing suddenly makes much more sense and even when it doesn’t it’s still a hell of a lot of fun. Get this instead of Syro.