“.. a combination of Bowie and Roger Waters, as if they were splashing waves in the pool together, telling each other dirty jokes…”
“.. an audio excavator, plunging deeper into the harmonic regions of darkness in order to extract the hope and sensitivity buried far beneath the surface..”
While I cannot truly believe the “single-handedly redefines” part, I have to confess that these are the kind of comments that make up a happy hons. So where do they come from ?
In my search for an easy way to pimp up my PR Kit, I stumbled over ReviewYou, a service from Ariel Publicity. It´s basically a team of music journalists offering their writing skills to the unknown artist craving for feedback – the UACFFs, a group that I can fullheartedly relate to.
And it´s cheaper than therapy.
The process is simple: Order your reviews (currently 45 $ for a whole album, there are other packages to choose from), upload your music, get assigned to matching writers and wait for your reviews to drop into your mailbox.
Was it worth it ? Yes it was. From the three reviews I ordered I got quite a sense of how “necessities” could be described, the reviews where euphoric enough to boost my ego and rigorous enough for me to be able to accept it, I actually learned a few things – and a possible two sentence description emerges:
“Hons is a Vienna-based electroacoustic musician with a knack for experimental sounds and gritty, trip-hop grooves. His latest full length album necessities both brims with industrial sounds and creepy psychedelic rants and encompasses all of the elements of a great down-tempo/trip-hop album that shines in a very dark way.”
Nice, isn´t it. I already shiver with anticipation.
If you have too much time on your hand you can read the whole reviews below, and don´t forget to share, you can even comment to make an UACFF happy.
Review by Matthew Forss
Hons is a Vienna-based electroacoustic musician with a knack for experimental sounds and gritty, trip-hop grooves from unimaginable and indescribable sources. Necessities grew out of Hons’ heavy dose of studying electroacoustic, electronic, and experimental music at ELAK, which is a Vienna music institute. Hons’ academic approach to music-making is not shrouded in complicated lyrics or obtuse arrangements. In fact, Necessities encompasses all of the elements of a great down-tempo/trip-hop album that shines in a very dark way.
“Feel” is the opening track with a bit of a raspy, metallic noise and Hons’ languid vocals. The trip-hop beat contains scratchy, electronic tones with tinny-like piano reverberations and a slow, percussive beat. The beat moves into a dark, brooding, rock-like guitar solo near the end of the track. The few seconds of a rock guitar buried in the background does not diminish the electronic essence of the composition. The trip-hop beat and electronic embellishments propel the track deeper into a world of the unknown with rousing success.
“Fly” opens with a staticky whoosh before a crystalline sound of tinny percussion and a trip-hop beat drive the haunting musical flow. The higher, metallic shrills are almost like strings, while the fuzzy electronica suggests gunfire in the distance. The blurby electronica is more like a slow, pitter patter rhythm that culminates into a noisy crescendo of stirring bliss. Also, the track is completely void of vocals, which does not affect the musical outcome in a negative manner.
“Think” is more of a dark, contemplative journey into the inner workings of deep space with echoing reverberations resembling a flute with the drone of a sitar. However, none of those instruments are used. The meditative sounds are broken up with a few tinny clicks and blips with various noise resembling cicadas and a factory conveyor belt. If anything, “Think” is a little more avant-garde in its approach, but it is still a standout piece of spacey, ear candy.
“Grump” is a rock anthem for the trip-hop age without all of the traditional repertoire.
The music features a rhythm that resembles a machine gun in the distance. This sound is interrupted with a few piano-like keys interspersed throughout the track. Halfway through the track, a swishy, metallic sound creates a slightly noisier musical environment with good results. The last half of the track features an almost jazzy piano medley amidst the noisy metallic swishes, imitation gunfire, and trip-hop nostalgia.
“Feed” contains electronic sounds that are more characteristic of construction equipment and woodpeckers. The metallic drilling, hitting, and tapping is closely aligned with a noisy, metallic background sound with a lush mix of miscellaneous blips and rasps. The aptly-named track could signify a gigantic dinosaur eating a spaceship for at least a few minutes. The last part of the song uses less of the metallic interplay and places more emphasis on a Western guitar outro, which does not detract too much attention away from the more exciting electronic base.
“Wait” is a very short guitar track with some background noise without a trip-hop beat. Perhaps the track is more of an intro or outro. Either way, the music is relatively characteristic of the other tracks. “Ennui” is not exactly a track of boredom as its name suggests. In fact, it features a few vibraphone-type notes before moving into a metallic wash of space-driven colors. However, it only lasts a brief minute or two.
Hons single-handedly redefines electroacoustic music using an academic approach that is unique and refreshing. The fourteen tracks represent a range of noises, metallic washes, and ambient soundscapes that hint more at trip-hop than dub. The few vocals were refreshing and a nice addition to the music. Hons knows how to create dark, ambient, and brooding melodies that are slightly quirky and never dull. For trip-hop fans looking for a little more ‘space’ in their diet, Necessities should satisfy that taste hands-down.
by Matthew Forss (Rating: 5 stars out of 5)
Review by Michael Morgan
Fans of early Pink Floyd will be in good company when they listen to the music of Vienna-based electronic musician and composer, Hannes Köcher, aka hons. His latest full-length album, necessities, brims with industrial sounds and creepy psychedelic rants. As bizarre and gloomy as the songs get, the artist does not lose focus within each song; whether it’s a series of jabbering beats and dodging piano lines, or, bleeps and poundings of ear-walloping throes, necessities is meant to be played at full blast.
„gloom“ has the singer moaning in a low baritone along a slow moving melody. The song builds up slightly with a backing piano and then gets blasted by a loud gasp of what sounds like dirty clavicle and screams; a combination of Bowie and Roger Waters, as if they were splashing waves in the pool together, telling each other dirty jokes.
„grump“ is a primitive wall of sound that could make elephants tap dance. The sharp thumps and scuzzy bass carouse around a trippy plinking piano. The middle of the song has the percussion going ballistic as if the wall of sound sprung a leak and all of the water is now flooding out. „grump“’s aggressive experimentalism and sound voyages are reminiscent of early Beck records. Hons mixes it up a bit towards the end and has a low octave piano take over the lead melody, which then drags the liquid percussion of clacks, bangs and shaking.
Another artful wall-banger is „rise.“ The song starts off with a sassy rhythmic pulse of static aplomb and rat-tat-tat beats, along with periodic industrial noise fills. Ever so quick to change up the direction of his song, „rise“ gets rescued by a series of synth bleep organs twitching out a simple circular melody. A loud rush of reverb and fizzy textures towards the end of the song cap off an interesting, bumpy four and a half minutes.
The loud thrashes of industrial sounding machines with different textures is a constant theme throughout the album. Even on the very brief tracks this theme permeates the album. „ennuie“ has slightly dopplerized machines, slowly whizzing by– gone in an instant.
„feed“ is a conglomeration of machines and industrial sounds that has a thematic deep bass synth line, as deep as the bowels of hell. There are sporadic squeals and guitar reverb and fuzz. The last minute is distilled into a crystalline solo electric guitar that replays the main thematic line. The song would be great for TV documentaries on animals („Animal Planet,“ perhaps?).
„think“ is another brief interlude. It’s a round of ringing and resonating bells sometimes accompanied by brewing industrial noises. The last ten seconds of sound are reminiscent of a diesel truck standing with its engine on.
„love“ is a hodgepodge of computerized bleeps and low octave bowel-moving yaws. Hon’s hymnal-like delivery and monotone voice mixes well with the whimsical library of odd technologically-indulgent clatter.
„sleep“ begins with what sounds like a piano lesson– a bare basic piano played as if the artist is being told what to play. The pianos quickly become more complex with arpeggiated and frenetic high octave flourishes. The pianos towards the end get wrestled around by a slow moving lull of percussion and bass.
„dream“’s eerie tempo and low-level thumping has the kind of fear-gripping terror that horror movies would crave to have on their soundtrack. For a moment what sounds like a swarm of insects buzzing may get stuck into the headphones and catch listeners off-guard making them swipe at the air for anything that moves.
„feel“ shows off the singer’s psychedelic Pink Floyd-esque lyrical delivery. The deep gassy sneer and nasal tone fits the icy, gray nature of the song, as if it’s being peeled off of the sidewalk like a stick of gum.
„smile“ has a female vocalist crooning her way through an eerie background of twitches and static. The song’s melody and sweet delivery is muddled by the noises in the arrangement. Without such noises, the song would have been a refreshing addition and deviation from the raw experimentalism on the album.
This kind of psychedelic experimentalism, blending industrial noise and melody is not for the faint of heart. Fans of Syd Barrett-era Floyd will appreciate Hon’s attention to production detail and composition. Music supervisors might also want to check out hons‘ dark and gloomy musical underbelly; music fit for cinema and documentary.
by Michael Morgan (Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5)
Reviewed by: Jason Randall Smith
Based in Vienna, Hannes Köcher spends his days designing software and working on art installations for various media projects. As Hons, the composer and musician within comes out to play, deeply nestled within the sonic framework of electronic and experimental music. The songs that make up Necessities have taken up permanent residence on the dark side of the harmonic climate, where musical avenues are patrolled by paddy wagons. It’s as if the cerebral contents of the mentally stable were dumped onto a table and the neurons started to form notes, scales, and its own time signatures.
Hons takes many of his cues from the industrial subgenre, his compositions riddled with dirty static and abrasive frequencies that disrupt tender moments, but never shuts them out entirely. „Feel“ begins the album with one of the few vocal performances, fighting its way through a wall of distorted guitars in order to express heartbreak and despair. There’s an air of paranoia that permeates this and other selections on the album. „Dream“ feels even more creepy and uneasy, its talking points relegated to eerie sustained notes, cloudy chords, and isolated thumps. The tension-building „Fly“ is the soundtrack to that reoccurring nightmare of the stalker or killer robot that just keeps coming after you, no matter how many obstacles you put in its path.
Hons works best when he pits the sensitive and the jarring against each other. Several songs incorporate this arrangement and the results are quite intriguing, especially on „Smile.“ The delicate vocals of fellow media artist Mimu Merz (gently singing an e.e. cummings poem) are surrounded by jagged shards of static and bleeding low-end ruptures that would make most subwoofers beg for mercy. A rhythm guitar hangs out quietly in the background, strumming a gentle melody that restores balance to the piece. „Love“ finds itself caught up within the same sonic limbo as a series of bleeps and bloops maneuver their way through a thicket of noise. Hons remains somber and reflective through it all as he sings, “Here I am again, standing in the rain, hoping that I can love again.”
The vinyl crackle and percussive boomerang of “Gloom” find Hons within a lower vocal range, bringing images of Edward Ka-Spel from the Legendary Pink Dots to mind. The poetic imagery of the lyrics are striking and effective, growing with intensity as the rhythm becomes more chaotic and disoriented. “Grump” taps into that dizzying feeling and runs with it, rolling and reversing fuzzy guitars along with the drums. Towards the end of the song, an incessant hissing imitates the shake of a tambourine. The bass pulses on “Rise” are the only thing keeping the song from giving way to the gunshot claps of its digitized snares. “Sleep” closes the album on a seemingly innocuous tone with its childlike piano intro and ambient layers of sound. However, this is all a setup and it doesn’t take long before the nightmare scenarios arm wrestle the composition into submission.
Necessities isn’t for everyone, but the album wouldn’t be as sonically uncompromising or convincing if Hons tried to be all things to all people. Perhaps he can be seen as an audio excavator, plunging deeper into the harmonic regions of darkness in order to extract the hope and sensitivity buried far beneath the surface. It is up to listeners to decide whether he can actually pull it off or not, but hearing his attempts to do so is exactly what makes this a noteworthy album.
by Jason Randall Smith (Rating: 3 stars out of 5)