Time, within the jam-packed race of modern life, can be a frighteningly inconsistent experience. A constant cycle of routine monotony can have the contradictory effect of stretching minutes to hours while months zoom by in what seems like days.
Self realisation is our ultimate goal. Music can help the discovery of ourselves through the likes of Hideous Towns’ stunning new double single and its persona.
Often this paradox births in our eyes an infinite void of time that, when we reach out to capture, frustratingly recedes to a crack too small to fit even a pinky finger into. So, what exactly can we do to make sure those cavernously minute pockets of availability are filled with fulfilment and not missed altogether? We need to find ourselves. To introspect and to realise those things that make us tick, make us rage, make us love. The tool for doing this is of course: music.
As a vessel for self-realisation, Hideous Towns’ latest double A side Don’t Forget/Wake Us checks all the boxes. Acting as a prequel to the release of their debut album, we receive two songs that perfectly balance one another in their distinctions as well as in their equivalence.
The two pieces are laden with thickly reverberant dream pop glitter that allows us to drift effortlessly through the inner workings of our own minds and capture ourselves as we slowly soak up every last drip of the musical treacle. Don’t Forget is straight to the point. A pulsing, crisp and lonesome drum beat kicks us off, setting the drive for the remainder of the song and providing us with a familiar life-line to grasp throughout the experience.
Out of this we hear a clean toned guitar riff gradually crescendo into existence as the snare hits develop reverb, leading us into a drop of full-bodied psychedelic groove where the sound of bass, cello, drums and guitars amalgamate into a pool of noise that meshes while maintaining the integrity of each part.
The four-bar progression borne of this combination becomes the basis for the remainder of the piece and vamps out for a few bars, allowing us to accustom ourselves to the feel, before vocalist Alana enters with her distinctly flavoured voice. Haunting, powerful and potently reverberant, Alana’s vocals are the last spice to the recipe, adding a subtle edge to the soft rounds of the mix.
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Lyrical phrases stretch and hold while the utilization of spacing between lines provides pockets of respite and allows us to absorb the emotional outcry. A series of coordinated hits under Alana’s wailing of “don’t forget” leads us into the chorus, where the drums swap to quavers on the ride cymbal, creating a sparse shimmer effect over which the vocals can soar ethereally. Simultaneously, steady beat-1 guitar down strokes coupled with an active bassline highlight the subtle shift in tonality of the chorus and grants a steady floor for lyrical exploration to dance atop.
Don’t Forget conveys the paradoxical nature of existence, where everything can be perceived differently based off of the observer. Alana’s lyric “always sleep alone, even when you’re sleeping with someone” shows the distancing from others that can be felt when becoming caught up in one’s own consciousness.
Appropriately, the piece has the very effect of drawing forth intrinsic thoughts, fears and desires from deep within ourselves so that we are left with a platter topped with a flurry of our own disorganised, unadulterated musings. Thankfully, Wake Us, acts as both the magnifying glass and the tweezers with which we can arrange the platter of chaos into coherence and realisation.
Wake Us immediately reveals itself as possessing the soft caress to bring in line the intensity of the previous track. From the beginning we’re once again introduced to the drive and feel of the song as a more down-tempo relaxed drum beat enters with a cure-esque major tonality guitar riff entering over the top that is similar in timbre to the guitar from Don’t Forget.
High-pitched psychedelic guitar swirls also feature as they carefully edge in an out of the mix, gifting the piece a joyous dream-trance atmosphere. Alana’s vocals enter, this time merging into the mix as an engrained component that eases in and out without causing any tension.
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Initially exploring a lower register, the ease of lyrical execution is palpable, lending to the feathered air of the piece. Transitioning into the chorus section we hear the guitar riff fade to allow for the vocals, which leap in range, to truly soar over the mix with sustained high notes that still refuse to overbear the balance, hence attesting to the vocalists ability to retain sound-quality throughout a broad medium of expression.
Slipping into the segments of vocal-less space is the entrance of the same high-pitched guitar swirls from the introduction that enter with a delayed attack and thick reverb to an effect that compliments the voice in its atmospheric conveyance.
To round off the track, rhythm from percussion and bass exits, allowing for the higher voices of both guitars and vocals to shine in a spacey textured outro that emanates surreal ambience. Micro-tonal shifts in pitch between the higher guitar and also subtly within the voice creates extremely subtle dissonance that paints an image of waking from a deep slumber and emerging into clarity.
It’s almost as if the journey of listening has taken us through our own individual minds into a realm of abstract honesty where we gathered pieces of relevance to take with us into the familiar but now evolved realm of everyday living. Hideous Towns, with these two profound tracks, have managed to create an internal rollercoaster journey that swings us through the confines of individuality and time.
At least for myself, the music acts as a tool to realising the direction in which life ought to proceed. So make sure to keep your eyes out for any more soul-enriching material from this group as they are sure to continue pushing the envelope of dream-pop experimentation.