Havenaire – Tremolo (Constellation Tatsu, 2016)


The abstraction of drone often leaves me in an indefinable state, especially when the artist leaves no hint of meaning through the suggestive strokes of titling; Havenaire’s debut LP Tremolo has landed itself in the first batch of tapes for Tatsu this year and alongside its fellows finds itself aloof and indistinct, cloaked in tenuous yet simple movements.

Each piece is fundamentally comprised of two lanes of sonic traffic: the first is the low-key bleariness in the underlying drone swells, soft channels of cruising or gently pulsating sound that gracefully urge the pieces along in their own tentative way, and the more heavy-handed synth, occasional piano and pink noise that create a sense of overbearing structure. Take opener “Monsters” for example, washing us ashore on beds of warm but distant drone lines, supplemented by piercing synth rays and shifting currents of elongate synth chords that begin to destabilise and fray into noisy edges. Penultimate “Mid Waves” engages in a similar evolution as its sustained, radiating bass advancements ebb and flow with slow-motion grace like a vast body turning over into the shimmering and enveloping light tones that replace it, the piece ending with a strange sense of transcendental beauty.

It’s not all cut-and-dry of course, as album centrepiece “Holy Hell” is eager to demonstrate to us early on; built on collapsed piano strokes and shuffling environmental sounds it goes through some dark motions, the echoic reverie juxtaposed by wobbling, obliterated synth drama that only seems wont to graze the senses at first before things seem to crystallise into fractious realisation, gently dissolving away across its significant duration. Nothing else is quite like it here, mind you little else is given the chance to be as long or as complex; “Small Drone” briefly possesses wiggling noise currents and a faint air of suspense in its ancient drone swells, and beefy “Brute Camp” definitely has a similarly grand sense of purpose in its explicit, but slow, rhythms. Still, it’s quaint and really quite humble as it oscillates volumetrically through various impressionable peaks.

Tremolo is certainly an easygoing listen, one to get lost in and find the minutes mysteriously disappearing into, but a record that’s tricky to place, emotionally or otherwise. Familiar idiosyncrasies seem to run throughout but no two moments are precisely the same in sound or feel, like collages that use the same source material but create very disparate and individual abstractions; curiously evocative.