If one were to remove the creaks and pops that haunt the edges of “Ptarmigan”, the piece would be an unequivocally pleasant ambient drift. Electronic beats offer only the most gentle of forward nudges to carry me over those rippling waves of synthesiser, and the piece swerves idly like a fairground boat navigating a lazy river ride. Yet through these creaks, I hear chipped paintwork and a neglected maintenance schedule; the precarious tilt of metal scaffolding in an innocuously light wind, complaining as it props up an attraction that has long since past its finest days (which were, by my count, at least two decades prior). The serene intentions of the ride architecture now slosh with the melancholy of old age and the mild threat of physical danger. It’s a strange mixture. Electronic fantasies flicker as rust clots the hardware, and promises of escapism strain through a mechanism too old to sustain them. HS is full of moments like this: tranquillity fractured by the noises of fault, with choirs pushing to be heard above the judder of a broken projector belt, or peculiar dissonances underscoring calibration errors in the music’s harmonic movement.
“Avic” sounds like a leak. Muted guitar strings drip through ceiling holes at various fidelities, splashing intermittently against the floor in a rhythm that spells the extent of the damage. Yet the show must go on; a buzzing electronic symphony rises up through the centre, unoiled joints whistling as it expands, beautiful in its naïve, ultimately doomed desire to produce something aesthetically glamorous from a chassis that appears long past its best. Keys and bells glimmer faintly like bulbs on the blink. So often, I hear electronic music as divorced from the circuits that bring it to life, pushing aside the network of wires to connect purely with the output: arpeggiations dancing in the air, smooth drones stretched across the horizon line. Yet on HS, I can’t shake thoughts of loose solder and splintered cable sleeves – the faltering circuitry that fights to keep the fantasy alive, pocking an otherwise timeless, otherworldly soundscape with the unmistakable marks of earthly decay.