Hyetal, Broadcast

[Black Acre]


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Even though Hyetal (David Corney) is typically associated with Bristolian dubstep alongside artists like Peverelist and Baobinga and releasing on Punch Drunk, his music has always been slightly shifted away from 140bpm bass music. 2010’s “Phoenix” is an instantly recognizable tune to any one who spends time listening to bass mixes, with a shimmering, contemplative quality not unlike fellow Bristol producer Guido’s Anidea album. The bright chord progressions of Hyetal are unique in that they feel instantly nostalgic, taking inspiration from 80s new wave and soaring video game soundtracks. The release of Broadcast, his debut album on Black Acre, sees Hyetal moving further into introspection, as well as pushing retro tones and laboriously paced rhythms.

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Opener “Ritual” is a perfect overture, a dubbed out and ominous burner with cinematic synths stretched over slow and cavernous drumbeats. The mood of this song is somewhat darker than the brighter moments of the rest of the album, but there are hints in the sheen of the sounds, the chiming melody of the second half, and the pure quality of it’s production. It’s a striking intro with a sound and style that morphs into the retro torch song “Diamond Islands” featuring breathy vocals by Alison Garner. When he follows it up with “Phoenix” and the similarly upbeat, bassy “Beach Scene,” it feels like a far cry from the more introspective “Ritual.” However, it’s interesting to compare the sound design and realize that the songs are in in fact extremely well matched, just at different tempos and moods.

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“The Chase” moves the album in John Carpenter/Blade Runner territory with minimal percussion, rapidly arpeggiated synths and sweeping pads, serving as an interlude into the final half of Broadcast, where Hyetal really shows his flexibility. The subdued sounds of “Searchlight” and “Dimepiece” are a case in point. They are tribal in rhythm but with the same manufactured veneer of such bright moments like “Diamond Islands.” The house-style vocals that wind into “Searchlight,” though, demonstrates how he can cross back and forth. “Dimepiece” is an exercise in extreme sound design, with wavy bass and guitar-sounding synths sliding through the climax. “Boneyard” invokes UK funky with the energy turned down, leading perfectly into “Transmission” and the epic tableau of “Black Black Black.” The former is a short exploration of distorted synths that slowly emerge from a noise soup into a clear, ringing tone, like tuning into a far-off signal. Closer “Black Black Black” does what Hyetal does best: mixing and matching sounds from different styles into a highly polished song that mirrors “Ritual” with a slight uptick in energy. With drawn out vocals by Garner and a Carpenter-ish synths, it’s like a long journey out of a dark place into the light of day. At seven minutes, it’s meant to be at the tail end of an album, where it has room to breathe. It might be its most arresting track, with beautiful melodies and a huge spatial quality. As it floats away in a sea of digital noise, this more experimental work is where Broadcast really shines and offers hope that we can look forward to more material like this from Hyetal in the future.

Blaktony  on June 3, 2011 at 7:32 AM

Enjoying “Searchlight” ; good work.

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