Switched On – Steve Hauschildt: Nonlin (Ghostly International)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Chicago-based Steve Hauschildt is in a rich vein of musical form at the moment, and follows up last year’s Dissolvi album with Nonlin, his second for the Ghostly label. The ex-Emeralds member has been recording while on tour, drawing from varied climates and cultural hubs such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Tbilisi and Brussels.

Hauschildt’s Bandcamp page describes his integration of ‘modular and granular synthesis’, and a technique of recording that plots grid-like backdrops, with subtle melodic loops, and treble lines that are relatively free to improvise.

What’s the music like?

This combination of a relatively rigid order for the background and free melodic presence in the foreground is effective throughout Nonlin, which manages to be both relaxing and stimulating at the same time.

Hauschildt eases us in with the soft and slightly moody outlook of Cloudloss and Subtractive Skies, which pulse with shimmering loops while evoking the bigger spaces their titles imply.

As the album progresses so we hear more the beats and the sharper edges of the producer’s analogue gear. Attractor B has depth to its beats while Nonlin itself is machine like, with busy patterns and noises. Reverse Culture Music has a nice poise, Hauschildt using twinkling motifs up top and broad notes and sounds to create the space below. The last two tracks, The Spring in Chartreuse and American Spiral, are more obviously techno-based, the latter starting serenely but gradually twisting its lines.

Does it all work?

Yes. Hauschildt is a reliable source of quality, easy to listen to but never standing still either.

Is it recommended?

Yes, for the point above. Hauschildt’s body of work has no duds – and Nonlin is another extremely solid addition to the canon.