Artist: How To Disappear Completely
Album: Aural Stream
How To Disappear Completely is a musical project from Poland that has ironically gone largely undetected, much to the intent of the book by Doug Richmond, wherein the project draws its name. While the book may be a bit extreme in the form of escapism, literally suggesting the assuming of a deceased person’s identity for example, HTDC’s newest EP, Aural Stream, creates a vacuous form of escapism that the listener can find themselves utterly lost and adrift within, without the implementation of the macabre. The use of which could range from alleviating insomnia, the intended focus of earlier and more elongated works, to the perhaps, unintended of easing anxiety and creating meditation/reflective spaces.
Reviewing works created by projects like HTDC can be a little tricky. How does one dissect ambient textures of sounds into the good or bad? Is it a matter of taste or preference? Or is it something more? In my personal opinion, I believe that, while there is a smattering of things to consider, such as technical skill, quality of sound, logical progression, etc.; ambient music, especially electronic-drone-like music’s success of being “good” or “bad”, is largely predicated on the emotions it elicits. In the case of HTDC the emotive dialect communicated to me is one of utter tranquility, and disconnect. It has been that way for me ever since I first encountered the project with its Mer De Revs I, II and III, and continued to do so through an especially trying personal time that was riddled with anxiety, confusion and self-loathing brought about by rediscovered-repressed abusive trauma. In short I was mentally a wreck, whom my wife held together until I could get the therapy I needed and saved my life, but where my wife couldn’t be I had HTDC catalog to get me through, assisting in blanking out intrusive thoughts and allowing me to at least partially function throughout my day. While I recognize that not everyone can or will have such a grandiose connection to HTDC in particular, everyone has the ability and more then likely the experience however, to feel connected to music in a similarly meaningful way; a deep emotional connection that is firmly rooted within a personally significant event whether good or bad. Perhaps that is what is the great signifier in all music when there is a struggle to define “good” or “bad” beyond the technical, it is recognizing the potentiality of the music to form and cement itself within your experience in some meaningful way.
But what about the music itself on Aural Stream? Sure it is easy to discuss what could make a piece significant while additionally seeming to dance around “good” and “bad”, but when it comes down to it, is this particular EP worth the listen and potential buy? The short answer is yes, absolutely listen to and support this project by purchasing the album (which is, as of this writing, “name your price” on Bandcamp). The longer, more flushed out answer is in the flowery language of the descriptive.
Aural Stream differs slightly from the HTDC of records past in that it begins with a slight Boards of Canada imitation in the best possible way. Starting off with an airy, awe-inspired texture is the track Dawn Breaks Through (Iterum) that reminds one of a planetarium visit as the lights dim and pinpricks of “starlight” appear over the narration detailing the wonders of the night sky. Dawn Breaks Through (Iterum) is the longest track on the album, and my favorite, the subtleness by which it gains its gravity and increased heaviness does nothing to undercut the overall feeling of fragility of the track itself. The way in which it slowly swells and then ebbs in an elongated continuity lends to the feeling of a nigh never ending and continuous sigh. The album continues along the same path in its entirety, though perhaps not to the degree and level accomplished within the first track, yet they are nonetheless potent within their own right. Where Dawn is a slow and inexorable swelling, tracks like Memoria and A Hidden Moment offer a steady stream of consistency with only slight variations, creating a slightly more versatile soundscape. Then there is Motionless Constant, a track that takes notes of Dawn on a much smaller scale in terms of the swelling and ebbing of sound, lending to a pattern mimicking slow, measured deep breathing. All of these tracks end up blending together into an overall relaxed and meditative piece which fits comfortably into the How To Disappear Completely’s escapists discography.
Be righteous by listening to and supporting How To Disappear Completely on Bandcamp: https://htdc.bandcamp.com/album/aural-stream