"Record" sets the tone for the album as silvery strands of guitar wind and howl their way through wispy smoke trails—think Pink Floyd's David Gilmour—as the low-end quivers in anticipation and little bits of drums tap on the glass as if to unobtrusively announce their presence. It's followed by "Divided," which does largely the same thing, only everything's a little bit louder, a little more assertive: this is a theme over a ten-track record with no gaps. Repeated motifs and sounds are carefully arranged in different configurations as From The Known subtly morphs. By the time we get to "Theories" at the end of the album, it almost sounds like we're back at the beginning were it not for the fire-and-brimstone drums that are now violently shaking its core.
Moments like that are few and far between though: From The Known is a record that makes us wait for our moments of melody and excitement, so that when they hit, the tiny swelling within the stylistic confines feels gigantic.
Third track "The Known" starts out with the record's heaviest subs yet, before they sprout a distorted and belaboured four-note chord progression: it's simple and completely devastating, the sort of thing bound to evoke fist-pumping on a record otherwise full of synth noodlings and guitar plucks. It kicks off a somewhat sprightly period of the album. "Memory" sounds like late-'90s Autechre smoothed over with new age tones. Meanwhile, "Become" and "Fragments" harbour a dull throb that has more in common with techno than drum & bass, linear and lanky but never quite taking centre stage. Instead, the guitar is always the star, whether it's coiling around the beat on "Become" or providing dry-heave stabs of momentum on "Betray The Present."
From The Known feels like a risk for Exit, especially after Test Dream's fastidious weirdness, but label head dBridge obviously believes in the power of HabarNam's endlessly evocative music—and after hearing this album, it's difficult not to join the cause. I'm not sure what exactly HabarNam's music evokes; is it techno nostalgia, weeping machinery, '70s space rock wanderlust, or krautrock alienation? Maybe it's all of those things, or maybe it's none of them. Whatever it is, From The Known is a peculiar little album whose emotional and sonic scope ends up encompassing way more than its parts, ticking all sorts of genre-crossover boxes you weren't even sure existed.