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Reviews

Huerco S.
For Those Of You Who Never Have (And Also Those Who Have) Christopher Sanders , June 9th, 2016 13:00

For Those Of You Who Never Have (And Also Those Who Have) is a haunting and deeply moving album, soporific in its repetitions of meditative and often ambivalent melodies, made to be listened to on headphones, alone, in a dark room. It is, ultimately, an incredibly personal collection of songs and marks a change in musical direction for Huerco S. (a.k.a Brian Leeds).

With this new album Leeds has peeled away from the house and dance-oriented sounds he has hitherto been associated with, moving into more ambient territory: a natural progression for the Huerco S. project — this solipsistic, eerie and ambient side having always been present in Leeds' work. Now, however, we find this stylistic trait firmly at the forefront of his music.

Leeds has done a wonderful job in creating an atmosphere for the listener to get lost in. Every track on the album is rich and multilayered, filled with airy synths and crackle, with Boards of Canada providing a good reference point for how we might think about this divergence in sound; chilling, repetitive melodies reminiscent of Boards' spookier moments pervade the album. But this is not to play Leeds’ own musical nous or his distinctness down: On the contrary, the album is a technical triumph. It's felt in the small idiosyncrasies and subtle changes which pepper the record – minute alterations in the sounds of the synths and pads he uses. Ever-changing, evolving and opening up fresh delights with each new listen.

The opening track, 'A Sea of Love', is a perfect example of the more personal and unsettling side of the album. It's a dense and at times hopeful track, enveloping the listener: The sound of waves lapping on the shore audible just beneath the layers of crackle and oscillating wavy synths that further imply an atmosphere of tranquility. But it's an ambience countered by the melancholy, repetitive melody, inviting a more ambivalent listening experience. And it's these conflicting impulses that create the unsettling overall mood of For Those Of You Who Never Have (And Also Those Who Have) and, in part, working with as well as against, generate its many pleasures.

Those same expansive, sublime sounds carry over onto the second track 'Lifeblood (Naïve Melody)', too where off-kilter organ sounds interact in an awkward, almost disjointed way. Not in a way that negatively impacts the listening experience, but rather one that points to a feeling of the uncanny, the "slightly off", as a new addition to the tropes of Leeds' work. The overarching, eerie nature of the album reaches its climax at its penultimate point, where 'Promises Of Fertility', like much of the album, is driven by a meandering and powerful melody which loops over and over again with a smattering of small variations throughout.

Final track, 'The Sacred Dance', is a hopeful and refreshing end to an album cut through with uncertainty. The synths — warm and inviting — played, predominately, in uplifting majors, providing a tonal break from the rest of the album, offering a blithe finale to what is quite often an unsettling experience.

Previously, Brian Leeds made music that you could dance to. Now he makes music to lose yourself in.

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