Review: HS – How To

HS - How ToIt’s like those Gaspar Noe films where the camera swirls endlessly, hurtling through the air like a plastic bag dancing into an updraft, gliding through windows and above the blur of traffic, penetrating clumps of cloud and spinning amidst the winds of 20,000ft. This isn’t what I was expecting, largely because my expectations were dumb; when I learned that Stelzer works primarily with tape players and cassettes, my mind drifted toward ideas of intimacy and small scale, pockets of archival capture, the withering and the frail. Instead I’m immersed in gigantic weather systems of crackling turbulence and static, seamed by matt-coloured feedback and coughs of crumpled tape – interference turned gale-force, rattling through metallic objects so that they clunk and whine in complaint.

Take the title track, “How To”. It’s like someone left a window open during a mild hurricane. I can see curtains fluttering horizontally and hear loose floorboards vibrating beneath me in muffled bass frequencies. “Close Quarters/Turbines (#2)” starts with the sort of lo-fi monophonic chatter I was expecting to hear before two gigantic pendulums of white noise catch me unawares, clipping my earlobes as they whoosh past me on either side. I used to think of cassettes alongside the sorts of sounds I can place upon the palms of my hands. With Stelzer, I’m sucked into the reel and sent spinning, crushed between layers of tape.