Last year The Virgance aka Nathan Smith released a highly impressive full-length shoegaze lover’s wet dream entitled Lost Continent. Less then a year later his follow-up Hiko Shrine is very much in the same vein but it also raises the stakes. One of my favorite tracks of all time is called “Glide” by Tim Hecker. It is in my opinion a quintessential track that is about as close to perfection as you can get to marry white noise with tranquil waves of beauty. Hiko Shrine very much tries to and succeeds at doing that same exact thing except across an entire album.
Another obvious comparison here is Bloody Valentine. There are definite similarities but also contrasting differences that aren’t subtle to a trained ear. First off Smith stylistically incorporates grandiose post-rock infused passages that fly high. You hear Smith trying to surpass climaxes much in the same way Godspeed You! Black Emperor and M83 do.
The opening track “Propulsion Lab Part I” is a beautiful concoction of distortion, synths, drums and possibly other sounds that only my subconscious would notice. It immediately grabs onto a wavelength of energy and doesn’t let go till the song is over. “Propulsion Lab Part I” feels like it is moving at a thousand miles per second although the BPM is probably around 120.
Smith understands the pacing of an album as he demonstrates on “Mobius Strip” and “Breitling Orbiter.” “Mobius Strip” is a moment of tranquil serenity after “Propulsion Lab Part I.” It’s a reflective moment in which you are able to embrace your surroundings. “Breitling Orbiter” starts to take off but still is surrounded by atmospheric, ethereal elements that point to awe and wonder.
I think it is fair to call “Airsick” the centerpiece of the album. The seven-plus-minute track builds waves of white noise and underlying pads of beauty that will take over every frequency your speakers can produce. As the album progresses “Eos and Astraeus” and “Slingshot” were notable tracks. “Slingshot” omitted the white noise from guitars while focusing on angelic tones and pads.
Some people don’t understand this genre and can’t get past abrasiveness dissonance. In my ideal alternative universe music like this would be playing at the Superbowl halftime show not Katy Perry. To my ears this music enables us to empathize with the emotions that are too abstract for words to fully recognize.
Become A Fan
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook