Hyper Flux

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Herva's second album for Planet Mu, Hyper Flux, finds the Italian producer snaking down an even more twisted path than on his previous efforts. Easily his most experimental work to date, the album is rougher, grainier, and more abstract than 2015's Kila, and seems to be several worlds removed from the disco-influenced house of his earlier recordings. Herva continues to create music with self-modified hardware and software, and here he adds non-electronic instruments to his arsenal, although it's difficult to tell exactly which ones he's playing. Some atmospheric post-punk bass guitar is buried under the glitched-out drift of "Meta Wave," and tracks like "Peach" feature some cluttered, bashed drums, but most of the sounds are heavily processed and fragmented. Instead of having a pronounced thump, most of the tracks' rhythms tend to be more of a granulated shuffle. Nevertheless, he manages to forge a very offbeat form of machine funk here, and it's more engaging than it might seem on the surface. Warm, sparkling melodies do manage to emerge from the bitcrunched breaks. "Lly Spirals" features a sinister whispering voice (which happens to sound a lot like Frank Zappa in his song "Central Scrutinizer") along with lush synths and electro beats which sound directly inspired by Detroit techno's second wave. "Cops Twerk" features a jittery beat and loads of abrasive police scanner samples, but somehow the smudged synths and smooth bass guitar manage to make the song seem oddly soothing. The unexpectedly heartstruck "Dedicated" places '70s soft rock-sounding vocals by Mar G under a meandering yet sentimental keyboard melody and breezy, reversed beats. The album ends with "Zykmed," which gradually builds up resonant ambient swells until they become overwhelming. Hyper Flux is undoubtedly a challenging listen, but it's highly rewarding for any listener who makes the effort to try and figure it out, and it solidifies Herva's status as an innovator.

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