Hive Mind – Elysian Alarms

Hive Mind – Elysian Alarms CD Difficult Interactions 2020

It would seem Elysian Alarms is the first new full-length album from Hive Mind since 2012, with only a handful of shorter releases issued in the intervening years. Yet from the initial listens to Elysian Alarms it is immediately obvious that it has not been merely a matter of hitting record and letting fly. Rather it is clear that a significant amount of planning and attention to detail has gone into the sonic crafting of this instrumental album, which inhabits industrial drone and controlled experimental noise.

Opening cut Wish Contact sets the tone for the entire album, given it covers invasive layered drones, caustic loops, vaguely rhythmic structures and an undercurrent of scrabbling insectile textures. With the first track bleeding into the next piece Mars, Cloaked in Leather a broader ‘ebb and flow’ approach is revealed. Wavering drones with an off-kilter sway blend with, crumbling bass distorted loops and erupting fissures of electric static which continually interweave as the track unfolds. The Roses in Bagatelle Gardens follows a similar sonic trajectory but introduces some raw scrap metal field recordings for good measure. To slightly change tact, House Without a Key includes semi-melodious synth stabs and a backbone of a loosely rhythmic throb, further blended with windswept noise, while Come Alone features more raw metallic field recordings set against a bedrock of thick industrialized drones and insectile noise akin to the shrill singing of an army of robotic cicadas. Pawns Put Back Together, being the sixth and final track, arcs back to quieter controlled territory of depth and echo, where deep tonal drones slowly unfurl to the album’s conclusion just shy of 40 minutes in total.

The overall pacing of Elysian Alarms is an obvious highlight, given it is perfectly controlled by gradually pushing to roiling noise peaks and receding to more subdued sonic valleys. In some ways, the broader mood of the album reminds of the disorientating and alien-esque industrial drone-scapes of Jarl, yet there is quite a bit more movement and sonic heft on display here. A cleanly designed 4-panel dig-pack rounds out a slick presentation of the CD, with the album also issued on limited vinyl. An excellent album overall.

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