Steve Hauschildt - Sequitur
"Sequitur is a musical domain where ideas freely collide and coalesce to form emotive states for the listener." Ambition is the operative theme here, and why shouldn't it be? Steve Hauschildt's last record Tragedy & Geometry, was a plethora of soundscape and minimalism that was lauded throughout the industry, leaving him in a position which was as advantageous as it was rare. Many spiral out of control or into frenzy when the puzzling face of acclaim grimaces in their direction, however, the Emeralds man shut the door and swallowed the key. In the year since his previous effort was released, Hauschildt has been holed-up between Vancouver and Cleveland experimenting with a whole new foray of instruments and intent, exploring the "boundary between nature and artifice." The record is titled Sequitur.
Characteristically low-fi analogue synthesisers open the record, 'Interconnected' with one another. A reclined simplistic falling melody is established as a central theme, whilst stutters of warbling motifs and whistles of distant synthesiser chords condense an intentionally slight texture. There's variation as another section is pasted on at the end of the song; sense is conjured and we're almost took by the hand, with our head to its chest – the elements breathe.
Whether the record is introspective, as Hauschildt's ambition states, or retrospective is unclear. By 'Accelerated Yearning' the range of sounds resemble a Nobou Uematsu circa '94 soundtrack – they're interesting and beautiful, but not of an ingrained organic nature. The uses of them might be though; a leisurely pace, irregular rhythms, and intertwining stutters of varied melody – nothing feels grandiose.
'Constant Reminders' is packed with perky keyboards, centred with bass guitar and defined by a simplistic, funky drum beat - it's completely unsurprising and usual. Whether Hauschildt's aim was to pride its indistinguishable vocoder, I don't know – but succinct uses of melody and rhythmic interaction are what usually makes songs of this ilk great. Unfortunately there's not enough of it here.
Do you find it worrying that Steve Hauschildt rarely reverts to the soundscape nature of Tragedy & Geometry? The tapestry of Sequitur doesn't possess the same colour and textures as its predecessor, and therefore it's a completely different beast. You'll hear wondrous, unhurried flourishes on the title track, but soon enough 'Mixed Messages' arrives to change the scenery. The bumbling nature of its core is charming, and in the tonality there's an allegiance to a fluffy aesthetic, which in turn creates more space for the whistling discerning tones to divulge themselves.
Regardless of whether you view it as conflictive or expansive, the recurring themes on the record are slight, revealing themselves prominently in the instrumentation. In terms of cohesion 'Steep Decline', 'Kept' and 'Sequitur' fit, but there's not really any fluidity in the bulk of the material. Is Hauschildt making a comment on the spontaneity of emotive states? Maybe there's something deeper there, but I'd loved for Sequitur to have had the same ebb and flow as the tracks that construct its spine.
'Kept' has a submissive gradient. It's texturally very straightforward, but it creates an affecting backdrop in which you can ponder; it's the moment on the record where ambition is realised. The bare creeps of variety in the wallowing leading melody are rife with a cohesion and subtlety. Sliding to the five-minute mark, it leaks into the 'Steep Decline' that ends the album. Brassy tones and a delicately sombre leading feature are embellished by inaudible drums and layer-upon-layer of synthesisers.
Sequitur is a statement of ambition - the aspirations exceed those of the organic Tragedy & Geometry. Hauschildt has thrown a gauntlet of exploration and disparity but without the commodities present in his past work, vulnerabilities have been revealed in his writing. By entangling himself with an ever-changing guise of premise, the thematic centre of the record suffers from an uncomfortable loss of identity. This may not be necessarily negative, conflicted bodies of work can be the most interesting, and at times Sequitur is encapsulating. However I can't help but feel slightly aggrieved that this record isn't as entrancing as it could've been.