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18 April 2017

Hat Melter - 'Unknown Album' (Crouton)

Two cellos, two percussionists and a lot of editing = a big electroacoustic tapestry, woven together with some mouse clicks and pressed onto 220gram vinyl. Hat Melted is a big, thick slab o' wax and since I really, really like cellos, I keep gripping my armrests hoping for some nice DDA-sounding deep 'llo. But it rarely comes, or when it does, it's blended with the percussion, the whole AMM-style of laminal sound or whatever they call it. Sometimes one cellos saws around in the background while another dances furtively around the higher register. Sometimes they just leave some space, though the processing here, while not super overboard, gives away that the room ain't necessarily real. The four musicans are pretty evenly balanced, or rather I should say the cellos and percussion are evenly balanced, since I'm not sure who's doing what. This Crouton label is (was?) run by Jon Mueller and focuses on his projects primarily - he's one of the percussionists here and probably also the svengali doing the editing. I suppose this breathes some life into improvisation, though the electronic effects aren't always in service of an overall aesthetic, and some of the more 'improv' parts go on too long. The first side is energetic and has big swells and deep resonating tones followed by their sudden absence; some circa-2003 computer work makes me think this was just coming from the wrong place to really gain some traction. A few years later I was in the UK surrounded by a whole scene that looked to these types of collaborations, but Milkwaukee just before noise broke was probably a somewhat isolated world. Hat Melter never made another recorded peep - I suspect this was a one-off studio-only collaboration, and while it has some intense peaks of enjoyable sound, it strikes me more as a curiosity now than anything. 

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