Hot Gills | Faceless Tales
Emailing While Intoxicated (CS/DL)
Martin Høgild is Copenhagen-based producer and electronic artist behind Hot Gills. The album Faceless Tales contains ten movements and features prominently bassist Joel Illerhag playing harpbass (upright bass w/added harp strings), and then also sampled by Høgild. At first it sounds like one of those water instruments in the timbre and lull. The sound flow has a bounce, a careening Asian-like flourish, and sounds contained as if in a glass box (an aquarium?) where the bass at times abuts the outer walls. Waves of ornate strings are suddenly released, swirling away. But inlaid is some grey area amid the brighter day sonics.
“Faceless Tales” is a collection of experiments, improvisations and manipulations made for the performance “No Tale No Head”. Commisioned by Click Festival 2019, the performance collective ‘Mana:Group’ was put together with Hot Gills and bassist Joel Illerhag to create a performance during the festival, centered around the theme necropolitics. Necropolitics is the politics concerning death, or rather, the use of social and political power to dictate how some people may live and how some must die. Politics that cause some to be both faceless and taleless.“
As the movements (1-10) carry on there’s everything from an easy listening click-track to nuances of folk music. The mood is all about in/exhalation. The basslines have all sorts of values, from jagged to polished, and back again with inferences to jazz without becoming a jam session. Høgild has composed a gemstone-like collection that showcases a scope of tendencies – and when at its most fragile and playful seems to bring the room alive, Movement 3 is a great example – especially as it unwinds in the final thirty seconds. And just as much as the woeful, intermediate and short Movement 4 blazes from view incoming is the elegance of layered strings and other things on Movement 5. It’s an instrumental sunshower with a slow build lagging, aching with infinite hope.
Elsewhere on Faceless Tales are engaging bells accompanied by a myriad of murky experimentalisms. Likely my favorite piece on the recording is just that in Movement 7. At less than three minutes this is only a glimpse at what could be an entire score of rippling tribalism and shortstop abstraction that finds that peculiar balance between complexity while remaining so easy on the ear. They end up soaring away, almost in the way a Fairlight does, meandering towards the stars with that old-school electronic warble. There’s plenty to unpack on this imaginative grouping of pieces, all short vignettes. The way it goes out via Movement 10 is silkier in its gestural movements, though held low to the ground. After a pregnant pause the mix becomes slightly hazy and dissolves.