For The Heavily Undisturbed and Keep Riding That Wave may be two halves of one sprawling break-up album from AHH! the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Ainsley Hall Hubbard, but you'd never know it from listening. If this is a break-up record, this must be the most acrimonious, loving, well-intentioned break-up of all time, as the vibes on both of these six-track EPs are smooth and chilled across the board.
Ainsley Hall Hubbard has been making music since childhood, starting off with drums, thanks to laid-back, rock n’ roll parents (maybe that's where he gets his easygoing disposition). Hall's been playing in bands since the age of 15, but starting in 2008 he splintered off and started doing his own thing. AHH! is that solo project.
Musically, Hall cites Animal Collective, Beach House and Albert Hammond Jr. as influences, which means you can expect to find loping, dyslexic electronic loops, plenty of reverb, with a beating heart and soulful core at the center like a delicious nugget center.
Hall started off as a drummer, but fell in love with vintage keyboards and guitars along the way, which form the backbone of For The Heavily Undisturbed and Keep Riding That Wave. Blurry, vaseline-smeared keys give a woozy and unsettled feeling to the laidback lackadaisical feels of these EPs.
For The Heavily Undisturbed features keyboards more prominently, making for a gorgeous and emotive synth-pop record, like a mixture of The Sophtware Slump-era Grandaddy, and a more chilled The Postal Service. The keyboards have a pixelated 8-bit quality, which gives For The Heavily Undisturbed a sound like My Bloody Valentine or Yo La Tengo scoring a romantic dramedy set in Super Mario Brothers' warp level.
Keep Riding That Wave, being the more guitar-centric side of the break-up, has a vintage post-punk psychedelia feel, a la Television or Felt, with spiraling guitar figures, clean and sparkling bright, twining towards heaven, but delivered in a slackgaze Woods lo-fi fashion, with vocals very reminiscent of Jeremy Earl. Like Woods, AHH! is not overly concerned with being perfectly in key or having the greatest fidelity. In fact, Ainsley Hall Hubbard recorded all of these tracks himself, literally in a barn. Hall favors an evolving, spontaneous production method, being more focused on spontaneity and realness rather than high gloss artifice.
It's funny, but so often, raw lo-fi recordings end up standing out more than top 40 marketing campaigns, even with murky sound quality and sometimes unintelligible vocals. AHH! takes us back to the glory days, when indie rock still meant independent, with a similar kindred spirit to early, awesome records from Pavement and Built To Spill, at a time when it seemed like weird musicians could get popular without compromise. This is another golden age for the adventurous listener. The answer, of course, is when you find that gem, that hidden beating, sparking heart of inspiration - call it art for art's sake, or legitimacy, or honesty, or whatever you want to call it - and hold it up, like a prize, for all the world to see.
These two twin EPs are treasures of the unpolished underground. Listen through the fuzz and bask in the good vibes.
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