Astride the glut of psych-kosmische explorers on cassette-only, limited CD-R or even actual (gasp) store-bought CDs on experimental heavies like Chicago's Kranky, Cleveland beatnik new agers Emeralds have been omnipresent. Guitarist Mark McGuire's put out two LPs and a massive double-disc compilation in the last twelve months alone; synth-guru John Elliott issued one of the year's best astral getaways as half of Mist with House.
Steve Hauschildt, on the other hand, seems like the quiet, studious member of the band. (I've never seen them live, so I'm reading into his relative sonic silence.) Like Elliott, Hauschild't sound revolves around honey buzz arpeggiations and glassy-eyed daydream tones; his cosmic expanses reference elements of almost 40 years of electronic stargazing, from Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream to Michael Hoenig and Jean Michel Jarre. For Tragedy & Geometry, his debut album for Kranky, Hauschildt's settled into a concept album of sorts curled around dual muses, Melpomene and Polyhymnia, those of the album's namesake. Supposedly an aural essay on the disposability of technology as it gains an ever more dominant claim on our daily lives, Hauschildt's crafted an elegant and often bewitching entrant in the surfeit of night-weary synthscapes.
Luckily, it's charming and entrancing enough to ignore all of these higher-minded themes. There's a tactility and warmth to Hauschildt's work here that funhouse mirrors the steely remove of so much of the Berlin School material to which he's alluding. "Music for a Moire Pattern," for example, begins with chiming heat-simmer arpeggiations before cooling off into a pulsing lunar landscape, while opener "Polyhymnia" almost treads the same burbling, rocky creek terrain of so much New Age cheese but reclines late into great horizon-wide synth washes. With its papery Linn Drum patterns and expansive guitar fuzz, "Batteries May Drain" is faster and looser limbed—and also one of the few efforts here that almost stomps—and "Already Replaced" underpins its airy synth runs and luminous melodic drift with a breathtaking central theme.
"Allegiance" is more stately, a murky drone a-fuzz beneath beaming synth daze, but the title track returns to Hauschildt's jogging synthesizer patterns. As the aptly titled "Stare Into Space" concludes with an almost tropical motif that sounds like ice cubes melting under magnifying-glassed sun, it's hard not to hear Tragedy & Geometry as a rare standout in a scene increasingly blitzkrieged by phony blog champs and bedroom-studio newbs. Return again, two more times maybe, and it becomes clear that Tragedy & Geometry is not only the best Emeralds spinoff entry to date, but a record that stands toe to toe with anything the Cleveland trio's issued itself.
Buy Steve Hauschildt - Tragedy & Geometry at
Tracklist: Steve Hauschildt - Tragedy & Geometry 01. Polyhymnia
02. Batteries May Drain
03. Cupid's Dart
04. Already Replaced
07. Music for a Moire Pattern
08. Blue Marlin
09. The Impossible Flower
10. Too Short a Season
12. Tragedy & Geometry
13. Overnight Venusian
14. Stare Into Space
Other Kranky reviews