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Ambient - Released September 25, 2015 | kranky

Where All Is Fled is Cleveland synth maestro Steve Hauschildt's first solo album since the breakup of Emeralds, the beloved ambient trio he co-founded with Mark McGuire and John Elliott (not counting S/H, a 2013 double CD collection of unreleased material and rarities). The album moves away from the new wave melodies and vocoders of his previous full-length, 2012's Sequitur, and comes a lot closer to the shimmering, arpeggio-heavy soundscapes of 2011's Tragedy and Geometry, his debut solo album on Kranky. The main difference is that Where All Is Fled has a bit more of a lush, dreamy feel to it, with tracks soaked in a little bit more reverb and sounding slightly more suitable for stargazing. Opener "Eyelids Gently Dreaming" layers heavy, shadowy synth washes to spellbinding effect. A few tracks also have clearer, more upfront melodies; moments like the second half of "Arpeggiare" and the piano-driven beginning of the album's title track could easily soundtrack a daytime TV drama. Hauschildt prevents things from getting too sterile by keeping the atmospheres fluid and surreal, constructing dizzying, ear-tickling synth melodies that gracefully shift around the cascading textures. Most of the album feels alive and rhythmic, rather than existing as formless drones, but the only track with an actual beat is "Aequus," which develops a wet, thumping ambient techno pulse; combined with chirping, dripping sonics, it's akin to the Orb at their most magical. "Sundialed" has a simmering Italo-disco-esque bassline, but it keeps cool rather than erupting into a beat. Where All Is Fled builds on Hauschildt's Berlin-school/kosmische influences while exploring new dimensions, resulting in his most immersive, accomplished solo work yet. © Paul Simpson /TiVo

Ambient - Released October 28, 2016 | kranky

A year after the sprawling Where All Is Fled, Emeralds co-founder Steve Hauschildt released his fourth solo album for Kranky, a much shorter effort titled Strands. The title relates to the construction of ropes, and the pieces on the album have a similar quality of being loose and amorphous, yet they also hold together tightly. They're largely free of conventional rhythms, but there's a definite flow to them, and they never feel like they're aimlessly drifting. Hauschildt states that the album is also related to "cosmogony and creation/destruction myths." As with other Hauschildt releases, it sounds like it could be a fitting soundtrack for stargazing, but this album has a bit of a rough edge to it. It balances new age slickness with darker, more fearful moments, with a few tracks ending up with waves of Tim Hecker-like distortion. In some ways, it's a bit of a flashback to Emeralds' early days releasing limited cassettes and CD-Rs on noise labels like Hanson Records and American Tapes but with the increased production value and clarity of Hauschildt's later work. The album doesn't dabble in techno or synth pop the way his previous solo releases did, but it does contain "Ketracel," which features pulsating beats reminiscent of '90s IDM. Similarly, "Same River Twice" is fast and busy, with rapid, skittering arpeggios and bubbly textures. "Strands" is slower and more relaxing, with a soft but propulsive flow of smooth, crystalline melodies. "Transience of Earthly Joys" begins with solemn pianos and ends up with shimmering beams of light doused in smoke. The album ends with the dark yet vivid reflection of "Die in Fascination." The album is highly focused and engrossing, and continues Hauschildt's run of nearly flawless albums. © Paul Simpson /TiVo