Boomkat Product Review:
It’s hard to believe that it has taken this long for Swedish experimental composer Carl Michael Von Hausswolff to compose a solo album for Touch. In my mind he’s always been a part of the label’s wider roster, and listening to ‘800,000 Seconds In Harar’ it seems perfectly aligned with the British label’s wide-reaching sound. The record was produced as a soundtrack of sorts to a play focused on the life of poet Arthur Rimbaud, and since he ended up in the Ethiopian city of Harar, the theatre director saw fit to send Von Hausswolff out into Africa to explore this mysterious city. How the trip unfolds is what makes ‘800,000 Seconds In Harar’ such an arresting experience; it is clear from the first track that Von Hausswolff is somewhere ‘exotic’ as flies buzz erratically and crickets squeal rhythmically. Children can be heard playing in the distance, their words barely heard, and Von Hausswolff uses all of these sounds as an accompaniment to his drones, procured from an unusual local string instrument known as the krar. The track is split into three parts, and as the chattering field recordings fizzle out, we are greeted with further dense drones creating an otherworldly harmonic push. The music is both familiar (especially to those already passionate about the Touch catalogue) and deeply alien. Von Hausswolf translates the inherent African qualities with subtlety and intelligence, and by the time we reach the album’s closing piece ‘The Sleeper in the Valley’, its thick, electronic morse rhythms are more than welcome to upset the mood a little. This is the perfect close to a record full of mystery and awe, and one which will no doubt stand up as another jewel in the Touch crown. Recommended.