Historian: Hour Hand (Self Released)

Engrossing fifth LP by atmospheric LA based alt. pop outfit

Released Feb 27th, 2019
Historian: Hour Hand (Self Released) Welcome to the dystopian orbit of Historian, L.A. based purveyor of out-there synth-rock. Step inside and warm up. It is a healthy -270 C° out there. This spacey offering bound in new record Hour Hand holds the calm, meditative, at time morose qualities of floating in a spaceship, staring back at earth. Built as a sister record to previous release Distant Wells (and recorded in the same breath), its slightly out of step timbre echoes tendrils of its sibling, minus the spark of joy.

If that sounds too sombre, please be assured, this is not a downtrodden record. Creator Chris Karman has a stealthy knack for operating between melancholy and contentment. His reach extends to your mind and heart, inviting you to work out what is going on, and work through some shit. His professed desire to be out of step with any ‘scene’ is what keeps things fresh, at times confounding. Combining Karman’s vision with the vibrant Quartetto Fantastico has seen a very rich turnout of tracks in previous records. What this LP does is strip back proceedings to a very lean base.

Cover Yourself, one of the liveliest tracks on the record, is slung with a twinkling lilt of a riff. The gently undulating baseline swirls the whole track together like sonic ice-cream, served in a vacuum. The discordant Tied To Dawn is the king of Karman’s somnambulist vision, a waking dream where the sleep is so close yet so far. The arrangement of synth keys and snares seem to be performed in choral rounds, slightly out of step with each other.

Single Quiet is arguably the most downbeat moment of the record, though with stellar violin strains that emulate the ache of a heart. It is really quite arresting. The unknown object is projected through the tune, words “and there is more to it that just a glance or a stare to stand me up”, hinting but giving nothing away. Pedestal sounds like a song Lynch would feature in a Twin Peaks episode.

As the record unfolds, its spacey vibe gives way to a more melancholic and pensive quality. With all kinds of mad happenings unfolding in America, and across the world—political turmoil and an insane Presidential choice, shootings, climate change, ♯Metoo—the release of the record couldn’t be more in line with the state of things today. Ender It Can’t Be Repaired is rich in its lean musical meandering. A Simple piano loop combined with the ebb and flow of cosmic synth creates reflection and resignation: “This world is not the same place you were born in, so I’ll let it go… I’ve been trying to walk backwards, it can’t be undone.”

It is both a lament of the current stat of things, and a nod to the fact that it can’t be turned back. We need to move forward. Turning back to the start of the Record, Wrong Track amps up the positivity, repealing this slightly bitter taste. Blending the signature discord with a looped beat that promotes movement. It’s kind of a call to action. Perhaps this is a record to be played in reverse? Or start to finish, whatever mood you are feeling! The record has a mind-bending sense that encompasses many things, and still leaves you guessing. It is a must for anyone who yearns to be challenged, and rewarded. You wont be disappointed. 4/5