Heelhooks - Losing Loved Ones to Astrology

Released: February 9

Subdued yet glitchy percussion combine with all manner of other odd sounds to create an unusually sublime experience on Heelhooks' latest album Losing Loved Ones to Astrology. While I certainly wouldn't call it an ambient album by any means, it is rather soft in many places while being subtly louder in others. This clever use of volume across the album seems to give it a certain dynamic that makes this whole listen feel like a strange ride. The opening track bearing the same title as the album starts things off in a bit of a middle ground with soft and echo-y percussion that gets overridden with something that sounds like a synth stab that has those subtle undertones of something from an old horror movie. But the opener also sets this fun precedent of seemingly endless permutations on the sounds present in the track, changing drastically as each track progresses and leaving only hints of familiarity. 

"Dream in Ultramarine" is a particularly interesting case as it starts out rather gentle with is wavering sounds and an almost water-like feeling. But this is gradually erased as the track is slowly overtaken by an approaching torrent of noise. What I really enjoyed is the gradualness of this change - rather than hitting me all at once with an assault of cacophony, the rush creeps slowly on as the volume and complexity of the track becomes greater and introduces new abstractions into it. "Cruel in the Pool" takes this dynamic and flips it on its head, starting out with chaotic percussion with an impossibly complex rhythm. But as the tracks progresses, it slowly becomes calmer and the rhythm slows itself down as it allows more harmonic content to bleed in to the soundscape. 

A rather interesting motif that repeatedly crops up throughout the runtime is Heelhooks' use of vocal bits. To be certain, there is no singing or anything like it - instead, all the vocals are like these small fragments of speech that are so broken there is no chance of understanding what is being said aside from the one or two words out of many that you may catch. This theme appears in almost every track on the album and is sometimes so well blended in that I didn't realize it was voices that I heard until I stopped to listen much closer. With all of these intricate layers, I recommend you be prepared to listen very closely as well.  


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