Category: Electronica / Ambient / Trip-Hop
Blurb: Taking a much more chilled out and deceptively tranquil approach that belies the tensely dark atmospheres resonating throughout, Splynter Group presents another welcome side of the Cracknation.
With several tracks licensed out to soundtracks and appearing across various compilations in the Cracknation catalog for over a decade, it has been a wonder as to when if ever the enigmatic Splynter Group was ever going to release a full-length album. In 2014, those questions were answered as the act finally released Hadron, a collection of chilled out ambient electronica that – though credited over the years to such names as H. Vargas, P. Jawson, and K. Polhemus – bears all of the signatures of the Cracknation sound as only Jason Novak and his cohorts can produce.
Hadron begins with the sweeping and dark atmospheres of “Cathedral,” resonating with a chorale-like solemnity and an almost demonic foreboding. It’s an appropriate mix of calm and tension that builds steadily through each track of the album. A track like “Particle 001” moves at a languid pace of trickling, spacey pads creating a sense of vastness and hollowness; similarly, “Ambien Planets” gives the impression, with its subtle layers of distant noises of computerized scans, of silently orbiting an alien world while observing a bustling and busy technological civilization. On the more rhythmic end of the spectrum is a track like “Hard to Cope,” as it saunters by with a trickling piano refrain, twanging ambient echoes, and a sparse but strident trip-hop beat. As well, “Sunset Park” with it pulsating synth and shimmering metallic feedback, “Night of the Creeps” with its light beat belying the nervous and strangely ominous buildup of distorted synth and repeating bell loops, and the danceable yet darkly menacing waves of synths in “Gauze” all help to infuse Hadron with a sense of energetic flow to temper the more relaxed tones of songs like “Skiff” or “Knife Tickles,” the latter of which reminds this writer of Akira Yamaoka’s more melodic pieces in the Silent Hill video game series.
As stated, there are elements of Hadron that are very much trademarks of the Cracknation sound, especially as “Crisis End: Roll Credits” begins with a lax pad and ghostly melody giving way to a bouncy beat and simple yet boisterous bass line; speed the tempo up on a track like this or “Skiff” or even “The Poison Kettle,” and it could easily remind one of the earlier albums by DJ? Acucrack. For these lush and lively sounds to be given room to breathe and gradually insinuate themselves into listeners’ psyches gives Hadron a much more dreamy and occasionally distressing vibe in spite of its deceptively tranquil groove. Besides that, it is true to the act’s soundtrack aesthetic and presents an excellent merging of trip-hop and ambient electronica that is suited to any outlet, and is above all an enticing listen.
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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)