Hg is a dynamic debut from a young composer who is willing to take risks right out of the gate. From the sound of this EP, every move has paid off. A clear concept and crisp execution are the marks that we expect will lead to a successful career.
The man behind the music is Mo H. Zareei, who was born and raised in Iran, studied in California and now resides in New Zealand, where he is actively pursuing a PhD in noise music and mechatronics. His music, the spelling of his moniker and his travels are reminiscent of CoH (Ivan Pavlov), who emigrated from Russia to Sweden and who holds a similar fascination with the taming of noise through rhythm and repetition. And yet, the two are set apart by differing tones. In recent years, Pavlov has veered ever closer to the dancefloor, reducing his more abrasive edges. mHz (happily reminiscent of megahertz) seems more at home with noise than melody, and it’s likely that he will head further in that direction. The droning textures of “-38.33°C” are a prime example; in disposing of the beat, the artist is free to test the extent to which his listeners will follow. Ambient washes retreat while metallic crunches approach, signaling a shift from the accessible to the experimental.
Hg is the symbol for mercury (quicksilver), and the element serves as an apt metaphor for the music. As the artist writes, mercury and noise can be either helpful or harmful depending on context. The clearest example is that of the thermometer, which is safe enough to be placed in one’s mouth when encased in glass, but is poisonous when ingested. mHz’s intention is to “tame the harshness while preserving the provocativeness”, acting as the glass buffer that makes the dangerous seem benign. “mercury fountain” begins with feedback, an unusual choice for a club cut, but this demonstrates mHz’s determination to incorporate underused sounds. Within a minute, it all makes sense, as the feedback sample loops and grows integrated; it doesn’t just add to the beat, it melds. The buzz that finishes the track becomes the cornerstone of “prima materia”, another requisitioning of noise that treats the element as a friendly partner.
The melody/noise blend is not new to the dance floor. While dangerous elements abound in modern dubstep, industrial music has been known to push abrasion to vast extremes. With Hg, this young artist has proven that he has the ability to mix influences with abandon. Our hope is that he will not only nudge these barriers, but shove them; we don’t know how much we can take until we’ve heard something that’s gone too far. (Richard Allen)