Photo by Mathilde Chambon
Kansas City producer Huerco S – otherwise known as Brian Leeds – is recognised for his take on dusty minimal techno tinged with industrial, folky midwestern influences, as exemplified in his 2013 debut album Colonial Patterns. His sophomore release conversely forgoes his previously more dance-floor ready sound, for a spellbindingly hypnotic and meditative ambient album. Last year’s brilliant Railroad Blues EP hinted at what was to come with the sublime, expansively ambient cut of ‘Rushing to Paradise’, and this sound is developed into an exemplary and fully realised record in his latest and most intimate work.
As the enigmatically phrased title alludes this is Huerco S’s most personal release yet, and the sweeping scope of the record concerns itself with love and relationships – it’s an evocative, emotionally fragile and candid exploration of the dichotomy between its (mis)perceived ideality and its devastating decline. ‘A Sea of Love’ washes over you with the soaring, billowing abundance of this heightened sense of reality; later on, in its more serrated and spectral moments, it is disillusionment with the very death of this desire which is at effect, ruminating over the remnants of something once so visceral. The melancholic chimes in ‘Hear Me Out’ resonate inchoately, hesitantly attempting to realise a rhythm through repetition, yet the sound remains sparse. Throughout the record soothing, mellifluous soundscapes glide gently along – this rose-tinted tranquility is at times interspersed with sonic spaces which herald a more discordant sound – anticipating a sense of emptiness and dread which is not quite tangible, something which lies just out of frame.
The record’s monolithic, undeviating swathes of sound create a dense infrastructure, yet this constancy also constructs a certain low-lit warmth and intimacy. ‘Lifeblood (Naive Melody)’ is a psychedelic, undulating meditation on desire; ‘Kraanvogel’s blurry industrial landscape is dissonant and textured. This is a fully immersive record which has been crafted with care, and thus merits a special form of attentiveness from the listener. By languidly moving in and through the hazy drifts of consciousness, Leeds has mentioned that its themes involve an intensely personal exploration of the highs and lows of love in all its forms - from the thrall of devotion to the anxiety of freedom, to navigating the self through the eyes of the other, and just how much of this is necessary before you become fully subsumed. It’s easy to see that there’s a lot more going on here than background music. The record deftly traverses the interior realms of waking life, uncovering the shadowy secrets that lie just below the surface, whilst its panoramic soundscapes are slowly built up until they soar high above ground.
Leeds cites his varied influences for the record including 90s German techno and Japanese ambient composers like Hiroshi Yoshimura, whose dreamy, delicate soundscapes are not far off from Leeds’ own nebulous creations here. The record’s standout is the gorgeously crafted, otherworldly ‘Promises of Fertility’, its sweet melody exquisite in its melancholic beauty, wavering on the vertiginous precipice between tentative hope and absolute despair that the heady rush of intoxicating love can often bring. ‘The Sacred Dance’s blissfully paradisiacal melody closes the record off in a dreamy, ethereal maelstrom of amorous, exhilarating feeling. For Those Of You Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) is an intensely introspective, hypnagogic record made to be played on repeat: for when you’re on a quiet commute, drifting to sleep, or simply just awake in the early hours of the night with your troubled thoughts running wild.