Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Oregon-based duo known as Hammer of Hathor have been a small yet active force, not only in Portland's experimental music circle, but among the underground in general. Amidst association with Au, a release on the cassette label behemoth Stunned Records, and having their debut LP mixed by Mike Lastra of Smegma, they've garnered a well versed reputation. To extend that reputability we have Vroom-Psycho, the duo's sixth effort and the first to remain in print due to an additional digital availability along with the cassette provided by the Field Hymns imprint.

Aptly shown in the album artwork, Hammer of Hathor can hypnotize with their skeletal structures-- although there are elements beneath the simplicity that expand and change form. This is exemplified in the opener "Mt. Tabor": the single note repeated throughout, the altering tempo, and the stunning shift from the introduction to the conclusion-- it's krautrock down to a science, utilizing its influences in the best way possible. Hammer of Hathor have the ability to keep a listener wide-eyed, regardless of the duration or chasteness.

On the topic of possible comparisons, Neu!'s 1972 debut is a prevalent blueprint for Vroom-Psycho's pacing and structure, with the progressively jaw-dropping opener and the mind-bending rocker "Invincible Armour" being surrounded by minimal sonic experiments: the trombone duet "Alice & John," the disjointed guitar tangent "Air Pain," and the manipulated feedback excursion "For Guylene." Like Neu!, Vroom-Psychostartles the listener by counteracting the experiments with a brashly trudging jam session. All of these compositions are shrouded in a warm analog fidelity as well, handing Vroom-Psycho a vintage authenticity.

From its sparse ventures to its cascading explorations, Vroom-Psychopossesses a mesmerizing nature within its spacious arrangements. Usage of traditional instruments (guitar, drums, brass) deconstructed by various tape loops and effects equate to both a linear and confounding result. Hammer of Hathor justify that they're able to strike a chord, even six releases in and having done so much experimentation prior.

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