Now three LPs-deep into her solo career, Christina Vantzou has led a quiet but consistent run of subtle orchestration and peripheral, striking beauty. Like clockwork, each album receives a companion remix EP, seeing each track tweaked and reframed by any number of Vantzou's peers. No. 3, released last October on Kranky, is no different, finding remixes by the likes of Robert A.A. Lowe, The Sight Below, and labelmates Tara Jane O'Neil and loscil. Perennial synth wizard and ex-Emeralds member Steve Hauschildt lent his talents to a stunning rework of "Stereoscope," a transcendent mid-album highlight of No. 3. The song's stark but alluring video, shot and directed by Vantzou herself, play out with the alienated but human beauty of 'Under the Skin.' Together, the audio and visual create a deeply moving, dreamlike experience that heightens Vantzou's immediate feelings of both distance and familiarity.
3.5 (Nº3 remixes) is available via Vantzou's Bandcamp.
Steve Hauschildt first came to notice as a member of Emeralds, the late lamented trio comprised of himself, Mark McGuire, and John Elliot. Since the group dissolved nearly three years ago, Hauschildt hasn't released a proper solo album, following two commanding full-lengths on Kranky in 2011 and 2012. He breaks this relative silence with Where All Is Fled, a monumental double LP that is a testament to patience, restraint and deliberation. I reached out to Hauschildt via e-mail to discuss the legacy of Emeralds, playing live and the pros and cons of profligacy in the underground scene. Where All Is Fled is out now on Kranky.
AdHoc: Compared with your compatriots in Emeralds and some in the noise/ambient scene generally, you aren't nearly as prolific—at least in terms of official releases, and especially in the last five years or so. Is there a specific reason for this? Did you feel like the "vault clearing" was accomplished with the S/H compilation release? Are you generating as much material and just a lot choosier about what gets released and in what format?
Steve Hauschildt: Prolificacy is ambiguous, so in terms of officially releasing stuff it may appear like I'm not prolific—but in terms of productivity I think that I have been just as prolific as everyone else if not more so. One factor is that for six years straight my old bandmates and I were constantly flooding people with releases as Emeralds, and this took up a lot of my time and energy since I was working and finishing up college at the time as well. I was pouring the majority of my ideas and work into the band and not proportionately as much into my solo work; however, I was still developing my own sound continuously.
We were aware of how bands like the Skaters, Yellow Swans, and Double Leopards were doing mass self-releases and limited runs on smaller cassette / CD-R boutique labels and wanted to be a part of that ethos. It was definitely a magical time, and I don't think the North American experimental scene will ever be as fruitful or communal as it was back then. Trading was not only commonplace but people actually listened to the shit that you gave them. What a novel concept, right? Anyway, I don't really intend to indict anyone who releases a bunch of stuff but at a certain point I thought that the model was kind of limited.
It's great if you make a cassette over a weekend and there are people who understand the personal value of that, but it's also imperative to spend a lot of time on a record and have that be your calling card if you want to be taken seriously. S/H was definitely a kind of vault clearing and it was a very personal and necessary thing for me to put that stuff behind me. It's unfortunate in a way that it didn't come out a few years earlier because I think it may have given people a better perspective or understanding of the way things actually unfolded. As I've gotten older I've tended to spend more time on the songs and projects I'm working on, so I don't think I'm really generating as much material to be honest. I'm probably more selective though.
After putting out a preposturously underrated swan song, Emeralds came to an untimely end. But the three flames that constituted the group still burn bright. Mark McGuire is staking out new directions, John Elliott is morphing into an abstract music gatekeeper, and Steve Hauschildt continues his rich and idiosyncratic reading of modern electronic music's origin story. Last year saw Sequitor-- Hauschildt's second release on ambient powerhouse, Kranky-- a journey onward into the past's proposed futures, complete with androgynous vocoder. For his next step, Hasuchildt is teaming up with Editions Mego to release a massive anthology of archival work, spanning from 2005 through 2012. Much of it is unreleased prior to this, with the exception of sounds previously heard on Arbor and Hasuchildt's own Gneiss Things. To whet the analog gourmand's appetite, Mego has offered the gem that is "Enter Return."
S/H is out September 16 on Editions Mego.
The remix of Lusine's "Lucky" by former Emerald, Steve Hauschildt, starts like a slow drive propelled by separate parts in rapid motion around one another: receding pulse, mechanical sizzle, and various synthetic touches that are by now so characteristic of Hauschildt's work. Atmospheric synths aren't in short supply. For all the electronics, though, there is real life apparent; the truncated vocal constantly sounds like attempts to speak, though unopposed to the din around. A feeling of mobility comes a couple minutes in when the drums appear, suddenly refreshing everything else and giving the song its own confidence. For the rest of the ride, the windows are down.
Lusine's The Waiting Room is available now on Ghostly International.