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Hug - Heroes

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Artist: Hug

Album: Heroes

Label: Kompakt

Review date: Mar. 7, 2007

On his Kompakt long-playing debut, the prolific and young John Dahlbäck displays not only a sharp sensibility for buoyant rhythms and vibrant hues but also a generalism that in some ways align him more closley to IDMers of yore and their bricolage messthetic. Dahlbäck stabilizes such multiplicity with a steady, regulation throb which he steers away from either pop thrills or terabyte abstraction. Rather, Dahlbäck explores the flares and fluxes available in the dissassembly of his moving parts. His chosen handle speaks to this sensibility. Rather than implying anything twee or cozy, Hug(g) is a Swedish noun that implies cutting, stabbing and slashing.

Early in Heroes, "Tiny Stars" stuns. Trebly pings bounce over crunched sandpaper and a pogo pulse, around which Dahlbäck laces a simple bittersweet melody that refrains like a lonesome mantra. The twinkling harmonies of "Tactic Without Practice" seem played on tuned plastic tubing or lucite comb teeth and accompany the snap and crack of compressed handclaps and a jellied writhe. "Sub" finds Dahlbäck slowly roasting a thick oscillation which, once gooey and hot, slimes through a pixel-pocked expanse. Off-rhythm, echo-warped fills provide odd accents and trebly iclicles tinkle on "Tons of None" before everything coalesces into a sleek, frontward shuffle, riding condensed-glitch globules like molten wheels. The grainy splashes, powerbook sputter and glistening tetrominoes of "Ask For It" end the album in a flash of bold cartoon color.

Coming in a sleeve that resembles minimalist gift-wrapping, Heroes is indeed a treat, although one that doesn't quite entirelly fulfill the promise of either its packaging or magnanimous title. Though each track stands out in some way or other, beyond the five singled out above there are plenty of others not fully-equipped with super powers. Considering Dahlbäck's indefatigable output, such lapses of indifference and cruise-controlled fatigue can be accepted though hopefully not expected.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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