Dec 2013 24

Hopeful Machines - The Spring of the Drowned GirlHopeful Machines
Category: Electronic / Experimental
Album: The Spring of the Drowned Girl
Stars: 3
Blurb: More an endurance test than a cohesive album, each track on this album takes the listener through varying shifts in tone and mood to satisfying if slightly disorienting effect.


In stark contrast to his work in the gothic electro/rock of Ego Likeness, Steven Archer’s more electronically focused Hopeful Machines presents the wider scope of his abilities in music and production. Integrating virtually any form that suits him from trance to ambient to breakbeat to industrial, Hopeful Machines is as radical and exploratory as it is just a tad bit indulgent; as is the case on The Spring of the Drowned Girl. Over 81 minutes long, the nine tracks on this album show Archer moving in a stream of consciousness as each song undergoes various shifts in mood, tempo, and style.

A bouncy arpeggio bass line drenched in delay and with ambient shrieks of guitar feedback in the background begins “All Light Comes in at the Eye,” a throbbing techno beat entering to take the listener through a psychedelic cavern of pure danceable electronica. Midway through the song, the beat shuffles a bit, the tone altering to a more atmospheric helping of Middle Eastern cadences before exploding into a noisy electro/rock drone that finally brings the song to a close. Much of the album is defined by these characteristic mood swings, from the warbling introductory sequence giving way to a marching industrial ambience in “I Didn’t Care the First Time” to the aquatic pads and phased harmonic leads of “The Thief of Hands,” and even to the upbeat electro that begins “The White Lands of Emphatica” eventually degenerating into an abstract cacophony of glitches, industrial percussion, and slow, menacing bass lines.

Of course, given the extreme length of so many of these tracks, and each encompassing enough material to take up two or three songs, one wonders as to the focus of The Spring of the Drowned Girl. Even with such dynamic changes across each track, there is a sense of each stylistic mode outstaying its welcome just a minute or so longer than is necessary to hold the listener’s attention, making the album very much an endurance run. Archer’s talents and abilities are not to be doubted as The Spring of the Drowned Girl sounds every bit as crisp and clean as the most professional production. It is perhaps not his most coherent outing, but will yield many an intriguing moment for those with the patience to listen.
Track list:

  1. All Light Comes in at the Eye
  2. I Didn’t Care the First Time
  3. The Cold that Comes Like a Hammer Across Hands
  4. The Thief of Hands
  5. The White Lands of Empathica
  6. Behind Cloth and Curtain
  7. In Time I Cam to Understand
  8. Canyons Full of Ghosts
  9. The Spring of the Drowned Girl

Hopeful Machines Website
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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