Sculpture’s audio half Dan Hayhurst goes from Critters to Counters on his newest album, preserving the sci-fi aspect while traveling into the realm of deep space. The music sounds like an Atari lullaby for robotic children, the only ones who might survive such a voyage.
We’ve grown accustomed to creativity from Hayhurst, whose playful endeavors always produce a smile. The droning opener includes a synthesizer imitating a set of bagpipes, a neat sleight of hand. When all music is synthesized, we’ll still have our memories. Deep in the track, the phasers start shooting; but you knew that was coming, didn’t you?
By “Vienna Tea Room Weed Invasion,” the romp is in full force. Given the choice of interpretations, we believe that “weed” refers to an infestation of plants, akin to The Day of the Triffids or Gotham’s Poison Ivy. These suckers are fast; they fly, they suckle, they dart. As dangerous as this may sound, the tone is benign, continuing into the beep and click of “Sunlit Dust,” a brief burst of ebullient electronics. This is the sound that we associate with Sculpture, so easily identifiable that we can imagine a strobe light shining on a three-dimensional slab of vinyl. And this is why the last thirteen seconds come as a surprise: a flapper’s dance from the prior century, folding into the photon explosion of “White Car on Europa,” whose pulsations slate it for techno clubs. This may be the most accessible piece Hayhurst has ever produced, while still preserving his signature sound. The closing segment can be mixed easily into another piece.
But hold on. “Point Absorbing All Points,” described in the press release as “the reverberant singularity at the heart of the album,” is a corroded, loop-based work, as far from the mainstream as one can imagine. The static bursts are like solar flares heard late at night on an A.M. radio, as one dreams of distant civilizations and the thought that we too may have been colonized. At this point the album becomes a different animal, thought-based rather than emotion-based, the fusion of Spock and Kirk. Surrounded on either side by abstraction, the piece presents a shadow side of Hayhurst. As the music turns again toward the melodic, it seems the ebullience has been hard-earned, like a colonization at the cost of a founding generation. The fuzz reappears on “Burnin USB,” merging both worlds, ending like a fire extinguisher pointed at a fiery console. If “Clone Library” is any indication, maybe that first generation is still alive after all, appearing identical although not entirely the same. (Richard Allen)