Hidden Hawaii had something of a revitalising effect on my interest in D&B when I first discovered them a year or so ago. It’s principal founders Felix K and Wan.2 had happened on a sound largely untapped, combining Chain Reaction style dub-ambience, with buzzing, glitch-heavy D&B. The monikers found within their discography such as ‘Ena’, ‘A.N.D.’ or ‘Flxk1’ perhaps give some sense of the reductionist, computer sounds they are focused on; with Hidden Hawaii you have to listen to the notes they’re not playing.
The latest dispatch from the label makes up their second LP-length release. The eponymously-titled Elemnts album is a combined effort from Felix K and Dylan Brownsword, aka DB1, recorded at Felix’s studio in Berlin across a series of jam sessions. While other Hidden Hawaii releases have flirted with styles outside of 160+ tempos, the Elemnts LP feels like the label’s most diverse affair yet. There is plenty of faster material to enjoy here, such as the nimble-footed ‘Water #1’ or low-riding ‘Square #3’, yet arguably, the slower, techno-speed offerings are where the album finds its strongest footing.
Take the twitching, submerged glitch of ‘Water #3’. The track feels constantly on the verge of bursting out into a full Chris Liebling style smoke-cannon thumper, squelching acid and off-kilter bleeps remaining just below boiling point. ‘Octagon #1’ & ‘Octagon #2’ also make good examples, the former thundering forward with low-slung beaters and grainy swells of static, while the latter makes for a bug-eyed early-hours meditation, reminiscent of some of Andreas Tilliander’s more rambling experiments.
At other points the duo discard rhythm almost entirely. Take the metal-chambered ‘Water #4’, or oscillator tearaway, ‘Square #2’. ‘Circle of Light #3’ also takes this approach, making for one of the most memorable listens on the album; data-moshed atmospherics and achingly sparse percussive hits swaying together in unison.
As their first collaboration, Elemnts feels remarkably cohesive and unstrained. DB1’s previous releases have all come via the Hidden Hawaii imprint so perhaps it’s of little wonder their tastes are well aligned, yet its still an impressive feat to put together a release of this depth in a more or less live fashion.