- Nathan Yoder
Recommended Listening: Havadine Stone - Hyena
Though it seems like DC exclusively promotes American Dreams material now, I assure you that we hear submissions from so so so many other labels. And we truly love listening to it all. It's just that ADR surprise-released a cassette by Havadine Stone last Friday, and after exactly one listen, it felt right to drop it in the ol' Bandcamp cart and then start writing a review. Hyena simply struck us as too good an album to move past without heaping on a couple paragraphs of praise. Eventually we'll get off ADR. Promise.
Sitting with Hyena straight through leaves the listener a bit disoriented, as Stone's art is rooted in the noisy wash of unremarkable, everyday sounds, but it also presses upon raw emotional wounds. For instance, the album's second track, Synthetic Cricket Sounds and Hospital is exactly that - a seven-and-a-half-minute buzz meant to mimic a natural scene. And immediately following this unwavering drone is another long construction, but M34M3 juxtaposes a carefree radio singalong against the repeated phrase "You can hang it on me if you want, it's not too heavy, I can walk with it." This powerful performance piece eventually spirals into a tearful unravelling, showing that Stone is capable of production that lulls the listener into calm before dragging them back into a harsh reality.
Side two of Hyena pivots a bit sonically, but carries on these dynamic themes. Play with a Bird in Aarhus (Hail on the Roof or Popcorn) is a stunning track - an eleven-minute solo piano exploration with bird song and hail bursting through at minute six. The introduction of these field recordings feels a bit unexpected - sort of jarring, but not in a bad way. It's hard to explain really, so give it a listen below. As she does on side one, Stone expertly uses melody and texture to sedate and then surprise, resulting in a completely engaging piece of music.
Find Havadine Stone's Hyena on ADR's Bancamp page, linked here, and check out Play with a Bird... below. You won't hear much else like it, so be sure to devote some time to the entire album this week.