Huerco S. and the Soundtracking of the Loneliest Thought

On nights of introversion, I often feel a twinge of loneliness. Sometimes the twinge mutates into a blunt ache if I let it. Or if I don’t prevent it.

I can never pinpoint exactly what it is. A remorse for what I haven’t done or who I haven’t seen, perhaps? A longing for the ability to instantly tap into extroversion, the other side, the on-demand joy of life?

As I write this, it’s Friday night. I’ve been up since 5:20 a.m. and I’m tired. My extrovert side has been worn thin, my thoughts sluggish from three days of considering a barrage of bullets across the country.

I take a walk down Clark Street, which is filled with dates and friends and shoppers and drunks and all else that is to be expected from a warm Friday in Chicago. It’s a party I haven’t been invited to. Not too many other people walk alone; just me, the Irish fiddler progressively quickening her pace and a woman listening to Turkish music on her phone speakers. I put my headphones on. It gives me a safe feeling of isolation. It’s introversion personified. The outside world, at least momentarily, can be muted.

Tonight, like many nights over the past month, I felt a audial connection in a way I can’t quite place, something strikingly familiar yet far away. The newest Huerco S. album, titled “For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have),” rattles through my head yet again. It’s been on repeat for me: at work, in the early morning hours, at the late night hours, at work, and anywhere in between.

huerco s

Photo of Huerco S. from Fact Magazine

“For Those of You…” is pliable. It doesn’t tell you how to feel but has the potential to transform moments of solitude into something beautiful. The album creates stories through wordless strumming of keys and electronic drums left far in the background, with purposeful distorted-yet-faint electronic noise and static, with slight glitches throughout. The alone-but-not-lonely feeling of walking on crowded Clark Street, while at the same time not knowing or wanting to know a soul on it, floats across the entire album.

John Coltrane once said he believed music is an instrument, able to communicate individual struggles for truth to the social and collective experience. “It can create the initial thought patterns that can create the changes in the thinking of people,” he told Chris DeVito in Coltrane on Coltrane: The John Coltrane Interviews.

I recognize what Coltrane said through Huerco S.’s album. It feels personal without ever becoming intrusive. Could it be Huerco S.’s personal struggle and my own are one in the same? Do we both have similar experiences of feeling so very close to people while also feeling a stated difference between us? Or is there simply something visceral that he’s been able to put into the music which speaks to that side of me?

Pliability aside, it’s an album best enjoyed alone. I’ve attempted to play it for other people, both of us in the same room, and mostly received puzzled looks. But that makes sense. It’s an album that sounds personal, seemingly made for personal spaces. It’s a friend that knows the soft spots of emotion and treads lightly.

Huerco S. has created a quiet, laconic album, especially compared with his prior LP, but never loses the ability to create a sensory atmosphere that allows the listener to paint their own mental picture, a collaboration of mind and music. It’s one that’s as pleasant as it is bizarre in places, such as “The Sacred Dance,” the closing track, which is reminiscent of Drukqs-era Aphex Twin. It has unique quirks, such as “Marked for Life,” a tune that is repetitive as it is addictive and, for me, has high repeat value.

The sublime “Promises of Fertility,” the album’s penultimate, seven-minute song, seems to create a new story on each listen. It’s the album’s standout track. Sonically-welcoming, warm keys generate a the feeling of bliss, one that seemingly levitates in the clouds. But the blips, tone mutations and curves throughout the track recreate the twinges of loneliness, the dread of what may still come. The track, especially as it comes to a sudden end, reminds me of the feeling of falling in love; a beautiful moment in time that can and will be snapped away at any moment. A regret of that which has yet to happen.

This is an album for adventurous, open-minded listeners. It’s one of my favorites of 2016 so far. Those who enjoy the quiet moments of Boards of Canada, Burial, J Dilla and Aphex Twin should listen to Huerco S.’s newest offering.

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