Switched On – Hounah: Broken Land (Feines Tier)

hounah

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Daniel Nitsch is an extremely versatile electronic artist who has been making music for more than 20 years. Hounah is his most recent pseudonym, and he is using it to express innermost feelings and thoughts about the world today. Covering subjects such as racism and gentrification, he moves fluidly between a series of different styles, mostly slow in tempo, with the help of a band comprising pianist Johann Blanchard, singer Lena Schmidt and guitarist Marten Pankow.

What’s the music like?

Both thoughtful and thought provoking, Hounah’s musical style is downbeat but diverse too. After an atmospheric instrumental beginning from Reflections, the meditative Fairbanks has an intimate vocal from Schmidt and a production panning out in between the words.

The Robbery has a sort of smokiness you would expect from Massive Attack, creating a late night vista, but also uses a cautionary musical language. That feeling is swept up by A.F.R.O., who entreats ‘my people please rise up’ at the heart of Revolution. He appears again later on with Laid Back Misery, which ironically is a faster track with an urgency to the beats.

Sorrow is very slow, and a bit stately, as is Through The Rain – but this intriguing track feels like an improvisation on a thought, using some musical language that could be loosely appropriated with jazz. From Norton Bay is a thoughtful closing track, almost absent minded in its guitar strumming but with a spoken word vocal.

The interludes are thought-provoking, too – especially Cash For Your Home with its muse on gentrification.

Does it all work?

Yes, largely. On occasion the music of Hounah can feel too preoccupied with itself, weighed down by the surroundings, but more often than not it emerges with resilience and poise.

Is it recommended?

It is. Nitsch is a writer who gets to the heart, and this atmospheric album has a lot of emotional depth to go with it.

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