Collecting the content of two vinyl EPs and adding a lengthy bonus track, "Thirst," named after Main's studio, Hydra-Calm provides a good launching point for Robert Hampson's further explorations of the outer musical void. Unsurprisingly, many of the tracks sound a lot like later-period Loop, though with an even more minimal, stripped down vibe. Emphasis throughout is on rhythm and repetition, which would become an even stronger trademark of Main's than Loop's, with any change in the songs occurring at the most subtle levels. "Flametracer" starts things off in fairly familiar territory, with its heavy guitar crunches and Robert Hampson's echoed, murky vocals, but the mechanistic sheen lent to the track separates it from the likes of Loop stompers such as "Straight to Your Heart." After that, things get more abstract as they go, from "Time Over (Dub)"'s glazed guitar lines and the two-note riff turning into open-ended feedback of "Suspension" to the quite unsettling, bass-heavy "Feed the Collapse." "Thirst" itself pointed the way forward more than initially realized, being nothing but twenty minutes of near silence broken by feedback whines and scrapes. Numerous comparisons were made upon release to sources of inspiration in Krautrock; certainly the X-ray cover shot and translucent packaging clearly references Faust's similarly-constructed debut, while the emphasis on minimal machine-produced rhythms calls to mind both Can and Neu!. This said, Main manage the unique trick of referencing musical ancestors without exactly sounding like them, exploring areas of the same abstract, consciously and proudly experimental music in its own method rather than retracing steps. A difficult but intriguing start.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett