HOU – Trichronum

3 out of 5

Label: Auris Apothecary

Produced by: HOU (?)

If I could find a bit more on HOU, I’d want to frame this with further context, but Houston Smith – HOU – has no easily identifiable internet / discogs presence, and their soundcloud page no longer exists, and even the Auris Apothecary page is limited to “solo electronic composer.” The description for this release mentions that Smith used to be a drummer in metal / melodic rock bands, and I suppose that’s one foothold for how I’d suggest these electronic tracks are, in one sense, “limited,” working more from a verse-chorus-verse guitar/bass/drums vibe than the kind of ebb and flow I associate with this type of electronica, but that’s also kind of dumb of me to say – as though someone can’t transition between formats, or that that framework can’t work for synths.

What I’m trying to do is avoid the tossed-off comment that firstly comes to mind: that I’ve heard music like this quite a bit. I listen to a lot of electronica, especially the IDM I feel this style nibs from, and there are simply a lot of acts that fall into this sounds-like pile. It’s tough when it comes to that scene, because the heavy-hitters from the 90s – I’ll mostly reference Rephlex – have left a long shadow over the genre, and that style has been somewhat “rediscovered” in recent past, as I’d guess a lot of listeners are discovering that music anew. New technologies and lessons from the history between now and then have absolutely resulted in some amazing stuff, and then a lot of really pleasant stuff – which is what I’d tag HOU with.

The m.o. here is downbeat, to be fair, so the purpose is to work more in the peripherals, adding nuance into the details. There’s quite a bit of that, for sure, and picking up on Smith’s drumming past, the percussion on this stuff absolutely kicks at times. There’s also a run right in the middle of several solid tracks that burst through my criticisms, adding a sense of composition that feels unique to the artist – and I’d note these tracks are wholly the second of the three mini CDrs that comprise this release, suggesting some purposeful sequencing, which I appreciate.

Still, on the whole, I hear a lot of early 00s Rephlex – Yee-King’s casual slink dominates; there’s some D’Arcangelo icy, glitchy chill; and then if you look forward to labels like CPU or Analogical Force, purveyors of modern IDM, you’ll find acts putting together similar influences – Rolando Simmons also comes to mind. When HOU allows in a bit of an edge, focusing on – as mentioned – the percussion, I get a lot more interested in what’s going on here. Beyond that, it’s surely pleasant, but not wholly memorable.