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Fhunyue Gao & Sven Kacirek
Hoya Dustin Krcatovich , May 11th, 2022 08:38

On this duo’s debut album together, Dustin Krcatovich hears these sonic experimentalists straddling musical lines with a deep-set sensitivity and physicality

One fun thing about the post-internet collapse of time is that nearly all styles and eras of recorded music have a more equal footing in the marketplace of ideas. With perpetual, more or less unlimited access, any curious musician is working with a pretty broad palette as a default. For many, this means yanking disparate sonic inputs closer in ways that may've been impossible, or at least inscrutable, thirty years prior.

Fhunyue Gao and Sven Kacirek, who have previously worked together on theatre projects and separately with the likes of Marc Ribot, Annalena Fröhlich, and John McEntire, definitely draw from a wide range of inputs on Hoya, their first album as a duo. Atonal synth gurgles rub against playful marimba lines; elegiac theremin melodies melt through the negative space of a trip-hop beat. Film soundtrack composers like Carter Burwell, Danny Elfman, and Bebe and Louis Barron are evoked; there's even a taste of the instrumental work of mid-period Tuxedomoon. The mood sashays between whimsy and menace.

It’s no surprise that one of Gao and Kacirek’s common threads is in scoring for dance. All of the pieces on Hoya have clear emotional signposts and a physicality which invites bodily interpretation. This is very much a communicative, emotional music, with rhythms and melodies telling clear stories, inviting even at its most taciturn. One would likely file Hoya in the “experimental” section at the record store, but it does not share the headiness endemic to so much of that world.

The inverse of this, of course, is that some neck-deep experimental trawlers may find Hoya a touch too easy on the ears, while more pedestrian sort might need some extra effort to find their way in. Steady as she goes, though, dear listeners: whether you lean starboard or port on that equation, there are intriguing waters ahead, well worth an open ear.