The world of electronic music is strange. Often lambasted by being made by people not “talented enough to play” and “knob twiddlers”, it’s got more of a negative reputation than anything else. Sure, modern advances in MIDI and sequencers make it easier to lay down a few beats (with handclaps, it’s always handclaps) and sell it as music.
But that’s a side of electronic music you won’t find on Steve Hauschildt‘s Tragedy & Geometry. An album inspired (allegedly) on the Greek muses Melpomene (tragedy is her trade) and Polyhymnia (she of geometry), it’s an hour full of synth heavy arrangements that go from bubbling electronic ambient pieces to drones that take you to another era.
Of course, said era is the 1980s. The sound of Jean Michel Jarré and Vangelis run through the 8 bit processor of a videogame console, Tragedy & Geometry is cold and clinical, succinct (mostly) and to the point. There’s some moments of pure, unadulterated brilliance but you need to surrender to the cybernetic landscape painted through fog machines and lasers to finally get it.
Yes, it’s a difficult album to get into, but if you’re a fan of the period, there’s a good throwback to the efforts of the era while still doing some interesting stuff. Album opener ‘Polyhymnia’ is very geometric (of course) but the 80s start is only a little trick to get your attention; sounds will change into something else, morphing into a whole different beast (thankfully, it wasn’t neither Charibdis or Scylla).
Although there’s sparse, ambient pieces (‘Cupid’s Dart’, ‘Peroxide’, ‘Arche’) that sound more on this side of the Millenium, the nostalgia factor is still the driving force. Never mind the arpeggio heavy nature of songs like ‘Already replaced’ or ‘Batteries may drain’, it’s ‘Music for a moire pattern’ the one that will take you to the old days of Trapper Keepers, ALF and neon socks.
‘Music for a moire pattern’ is the climax of the album. It’s where it all makes sense. Slightly reminiscent of the brilliant William Orbit Strange Cargo stuff, Steve Hauschildt offers the electronica equivalent of a prog rock mammoth. The droney nature with playful notes that drive a poignant feeling it’s perfect.
There are more good tracks afterwards, both surfing on the energy that still buzzes in you (‘Allegiance’, the almost goth ‘Too Short a Season’) and some playing coda to ‘Music for a moire pattern’, like ‘Tragedy and geometry’, which is another gem waiting for you nearer the end.
‘Stare into space’ is the beautiful track that finishes our ride through synths long gone. It might be a hard sell for the casual fan, but for people more into the genre, it should be a very good one to check. All those years in Emeralds back up Steve Hauschildt music making abilities.