CD (ltd. 333)
Hattifnatter is a collaboration project by Evgeniy Savenko (Lunar Abyss, etc.) and M.M. (Kryptogen Rundfunk) formed in 2007 for free-form exploration of the psychoactive electroacoustic ambience and only now matured enough for this first full-length studio album. The material has been recorded in 2007-2013, infused and distilled, redefined and again sent to distillation and transformation to finally form into six compositions full of weird oneiric images.
Through the clouds of omnifarious rustles, hisses and crackles one can see the landscape built by analogue pulsations and multiplied echoed acoustic percussion clatter. Swarming in the bush of field recordings and random sound combinations are the little voices of the unknown creatures. The air of atonal guitar drones is soaked in melodic tunes, feedbacks and colourful multi-layered effects... Just like the doctor prescribed... Soulful mastering by Kshatriy (http://kshatriy.pro).
The physical manifestation of this release is made as a CD in a 4-panel cardboard digisleeve and as an audio cassette. The digital version can be bought on bandcamp, CDBaby and iTunes.
The name Hattifnatter may sound new, despite starting in 2007, they have been on various releases (see Vital Weekly 772 and 881) and the two members are no strangers to us. It's Evgeniy Savenko, whom we know as Lunar Abyss) and M.M., who works as Kryptogen Rundfunk (and who acts as a label boss here). They describe their collaboration as 'free-form exploration of the psychoactive electroacoustic ambience' and 'Barometrizm' is their first full-length release. The material used in these six pieces was created ever their start-up in 2007 and has been refined over the years. It combines, I believe upon hearing this, the best of both worlds: the vast expanding ambient universe of Lunar Abyss and the more experimental, electronic and electro-acoustic music of Kryptogen Rundfunk. Adding bits of field recordings, short loops of acoustic sounds, the transformation of radio sounds and the whispering of voices against the long sustaining sounds, the lock down of sounds inside a bunch of electronic effects, running endless courses. They might actually both be doing those things, and there is no exclusive division of labour here. At times quite industrial and mechanic in approach also, such as the first part of 'Floksary'. This is neither full blood ambient, nor right on experimental noise with a soft edge, but takes the best of both worlds I'd say.
Background/Info: Hattifnatter is a project of Evgeniy Savenko (Lunar Abyss Deus Organum) and M.M. (Kryptogen Rundfunk). The project has been active since 2007 and is exploring ‘the psychoactive electro-acoustic ambience’, which took them several years to achieve this debut album.
Content: Hattifnatter definitely sounds like an alien experimenting with dark-ambient music and the least I can say is that this duo accomplished a real creative and fascinating piece of music.
The dark-ambient content reveals an impressive number of field recordings, which accentuates the experimental side of the band. The work truly sounds like an orgy of noises. Every single source of noise including vocals has been seriously manipulated and reworked into a new sound creation. It now sounds anguishing and into pure sci/fi atmospheres. From sharp noises to a kind of imaginary breathing sound waves to haunting sequences this work revisits traditional dark-ambient music.
The numerous field recordings accentuate the visual strength of the work while some howling wolves in the distant invite the listener to join an imaginary trip into horror.
+ + + : I’m not that surprised that it took 6 years to accomplish this opus. I’m really impressed by the global sound treatments and the meticulous decomposition and re-composition of multiple noise sources. This is the kind of dark-ambient music revealing a different approach, which is definitely more elaborate and complex than the usual standards.
- - - : “Barometrizm” is not exactly the most accessible work in the dark-ambient genre. The experimental input can be a serious obstacle to convince the die-hard fans in the genre.
Conclusion: If you think that dark-ambient music has been stagnate for too long, and has revealed no real elements in sound, you’d better give Hattifnatter a try. This is a more extreme, but visionary-like composition.
Best songs: “Echolotus”, “Barometrat”, “Ieram…”.
Never really watched nor read “The Moomins”. Had no idea what this strange name means, until I checked it on Google. Quite a peculiar name for a dark ambient project, no? It seems that hattifnatters are weird creatures, looking a bit like hot-dogs, with fingers and eyes, but no nose or mouth. Despite their simple construction and graphic design, there is something extremely mysterious and somewhat disturbing about them, even though the creatures themselves have a rather neutral attitude towards other entities. And you know what? This description fits Hattifnatter’s music perfectly.
This is the joined project of Artyom from Kryptogen Rundfunk and Evgenyi from Lunar Abyss Deus Organum. Two experienced musicians in the Russian post-industrial underground. I wonder if “Barometrizm” is some kind of half nostalgic, half terrifying return to their childhood nightmares, an attempt to observe them through the distance of years and an adult perspective. After all, I’ve heard from several people that “The Moomins” is a charming story, but some elements can be truly scary for kids. My girlfriend says that Marran was one of her traumas when she was a kid, so I’m willing to understand that all these stories could have made an impact in the youth mind.
Hattifnatters own a barometer. The album’s title is “Barometrizm”. I can see the link between the music and… humidity, so to speak. Thanks to the vast use of field recordings of natural (or elemental) origin at some moments the music gets a decent dose of mugginess, while at other times I feel like I’m walking through a damp cave. Something is constantly going on; the music in its largest part doesn’t have a typical drone background. The drones are present of course, but their position is equal to all the rumbles, cracks, hisses and murmurs. Check “Ieram”, which is like a neurotic call of Nature, or a swarm led by a queen bee that has gone insane.
I also have the impression that the album might have been recorded under the influence of, let’s say, specific consciousness-expanding substances. Like their pal Kshatriy on “Mushrooms and Kshatriy”. Because the surreal aura surrounding the music makes it difficult to classify in a clear way, without demur. Is it dark? Yeah, sure. Scary? Not necessarily. Experimental, but raising curiosity. Like a good story, where you have to know what will happen next. Cold, but warm, just like in that Sanctum song. There are moments when it reminds me of some works in Steve Roach’s albums, those most ambient ones, although his music is more melodic and approachable. But here, you have to build the world on your own, though it has to be said that the prefabricated musical product to encourage further production in your mind is of a high quality. As I mentioned above, my interpretation is the re-living of childhood nightmares as an adult. Not those typical ones, with the monster in the closet or under your bed, but those where you feel alone and abandoned, surrounded by those mute freaks, who perhaps aren’t even bad in nature – but you feel very anxious in this bizarre, humid territory when mom is not around.
“Barometrizm” was released by Zhelezobeton label on CD (333 copies) and tape (55 copies). There’s like a few hundred Hattifnaters on the cover, so if you want to look for a lightning bolt with them, check this album.
Hattifnatter is a collaboration between Evgeniy Savenko (Lunar Abyss, etc.) and M.M. (Kryptogen Rundfunk, and the person behind Zhelezobeton). This is their first release and the label describes the album this way: “Through the clouds of omnifarious rustles, hisses and crackles one can see the landscape built by analogue pulsations and multiplied echoed acoustic percussion clatter. Swarming in the bush of field recordings and random sound combinations are the little voices of the unknown creatures. The air of atonal guitar drones is soaked in melodic tunes, feedbacks and colourful multi-layered effects.” For once, the label’s description is pretty spot on. “Barometrat” opens the album with field recordings of walking, paper, water, and other sounds over synth drone to create an interesting atmosphere. “Ieram” opens with unintelligible (to me, at least) male vocals and noisy elements with constantly building bass. “Echolotus” brings in didgeridoo drones playing on a windswept plain as a guitar plays. “Lutump” keeps the droney atmosphere but adds heavily processed, unintelligible vocals. “Floksary” brings back the field recordings into the drone, with wind chimes, water, and fragments of a beat that open the track. “Renasyr” has a hypnotic feel with long blasts of sound within the drone. This is the kind of album that fades into the background as you are listening, providing a kind of soundtrack for your day. If your life was epic enough to be a movie, of course. This album weighs in at around 49 minutes.
I feel somehow lucky and blessed by invisible powers, whether it is by nature or by fate, that have entrusted me with the ability to perceive messages transmitted through experimental music. I have learned a certain lesson while interacting with different people that such ability is far from being common; the sounds which are so pleasant to my ear become, to say the least, truly strange and even treated quite offensively by my surrounding. But despite this regrettable fact, I continue to feed my brain every day with a new portion of the finest avant-garde, experimental industrial music, obediently accepting the status of a “white crow” between my friends. And today I absorb the new material arriving from the well-known Saint-Petersburg based Zhelezobeton label which is responsible for many hours of my imagination’s travelling during the last few years.
Hattifnatter is a product of a collaboration between two talented musicians, Evgeniy Savenko (Lunar Abyss, etc.) and Artyom Ostapchuk (Kryptogen Rundfunk), both of them are responsible for dozens of different records which contain the whole spectre of various sound manipulations in the field of experimental industrial music. The collaboration started in 2007 to meet the goal of free-form exploration of the psychoactive electroacoustic ambience and today, eight years later, the project “grew up to the table” of having enough mature material to fill up the first full-length album under the name “Barometrizm”.
If I understand the cross reference right, the project takes its name from the word “The Hattifatteners” (Swedish: Hattifnattar, Finnish: Hattivatit), the creatures in the Moomin books and comic strips by Tove Jansson. The Hattifatteners are tall, thin, ghost-like creatures, resembling long white socks. They have round neckless heads with two round eyes. Below their heads on either side are four or five finger-like projections that resemble hands. They are silent and serious, having neither the ability to talk nor to hear, but in contrast, their sense of feeling is extremely acute, and they can sense even the most minor tremblings of the ground. They communicate seemingly by telepathy, and their eyes change colour with the sky. They also seem to be melancholic characters.
Adopting the role of Hattifnatter creature definitely helps me in understanding, and more importantly, in feeling the depth of this unusual record. “Barometrizm” welcomes me with “Barometrat”, a very meditative introduction track which is full of different accidental sounds and scratches over a floating background melody, a whispering chanting voice paves the way for the spirits of the Earth into the world of mortal beings. They burst with a full power in “Ieram” with a deep background pulsation and guitar-formed ambience creating a wide atmosphere for the listener to immerse in, and this composition sets the bar really high for the next tracks right from the beginning. There is no absolute time, no absolute space for creatures when the only thing that interests them is reaching the horizon – and once they reach it, they continue on their journey when a strong, mysterious shamanic singing accompanies them on their roaming.
While the album is perceived as a whole, each of its components possesses its own attributes. As “Ieram” fades away, “Echolotus” takes its place with its drifting, hypnotic sound presenting some kind of a deep ocean experience, integrating expansive guitar soundscapes into a dense analogue hum. “Echolotus” evolves slowly into “Lutump” that puts more emphasis on a slow psychedelia full of field recordings and a growling, creepy voice chanting mysterious words in unknown language. Multiple layers of field-recordings, electronic percussion, various pulsations and scratches in “Floksary” generate a truly otherworldly atmosphere in my room.
As quickly and inexorably passage of time while Hattifnatters draw upon the last composition “Renasyr”. Yet, as a matter of fact, there is a pervasive feeling that chaos is engulfing their world while sharp and lingering sound of a siren tears apart the connection between spiritual and physical worlds.
Fifty minutes of hypnotic journey passed in one glimpse, and I am sure that our small creatures can consider themselves more than satisfied from the way that Russian residents captured their gentle sensuality. I only want to wish them a safe and pleasant travel to the edge of this world and beyond to the tunes of their favourite melodies. I am sure that we will meet them in the future, especially when two such creative artists are responsible for transmission of Hattifnatters’ adventures through the sound of their instruments. Waiting forward to hearing from them again.
In Tove Jansson’s Moomin series, the Hattifnatters are serious mysterious ghost-like beings who rarely speak, can be grown from seeds, and may be able to attract lightning. The silent and occasionally glowing creatures are obsessed with weather and collectively own a single barometer, which they guard zealously. They are sometimes assumed to be malevolent spirit beings, but are actually just fucking weird. And this album, Barometrizm, by the duo named after these herbaceous supernatural beings, captures their atmospheric weirdness perfectly.
As one might expect from a project named after the Hattifnatters, field recordings saturate this release. Crackling, dripping, pulsing, rippling, burbling, creaking, whooshing: this album has it all, layered with distant chiming, granulated voice noises, bowed things, and tidal ebbs and flows of tones, both warm and cold. It’s not quite ‘dark ambient’ or its hippy cousin ‘meditation music’, but it definitely sits (strangely, ghostly, mysteriously) in that same spectral ballpark. If I had to compare it to anything, it brings to mind the treated ritual noises of Akoustik Timbre Frekuency (who actually does designate his own works as ‘dark ambient’, so what do I know?), with its delays, flanges, filters, field recordings, pitch-shiftings, occult atmosphere.
The sixth and final track (‘Renasyr’) is the gold here, as far as I’m concerned: concentrated weird darkness with very unsettling vocal creak-grunts floating over the top, sinister breath-noises circling, oppressive tundral black tones rising slowly beneath our feet, foghorn French horn ritual summoning calls emerging from the blackness. It’s heavy, dank, lightless, and not at all whimsical (which the rest of the album almost universally is). It’s definitely not as pleasant as the rest of the album, but this lack of pleasantry is something that I particularly love and helps give the piece a persistence and singularity of vision that eludes the other five pieces here. It’s almost harrowing, a tunnel experience, a well experience, a blighted and water-logged near-drowning experience in the frozen place that the occult-botanical amateur climatologists call home …and I loved it.
Throughout the rest of the album, drones drone, details come and go, odd voice noises creep us out a little, evocative sounds evoke, and strange noises do the things that strange noises are meant to do. It’s extremely easy to visualise the bewildering biomysterious Hattifnatters going about their strange silent tasks to these beautifully crafted soundscapes.
However, the spell is broken a couple of times for me. The album, although brimming with ‘footsteps in the snow’ sounds and ‘crackling fireplace’ sounds and densely wonderful washes of thick ambience, does include a few moments of very recognisable electric guitar, which, sitting as it does within an otherwise amorphous tonal/textural stew, just makes me think about human beings making music, and not about climate-obsessed bulbous quasibotanical spirit entities at all. Not that there’s anything wrong with electric guitars, of course—it just stands out in this sea of mystery, a clear and present reminder that we’re just listening to music after all. Everything else is so perfectly uncanny and unplaceable, hearing some dude playing guitar here just seems so … ordinary.
Similarly, ‘Ieram’ features samples taken from a recording of some Olde Worlde scientist self-administering some sort of chemical drug, which, although an awesome idea, breaks me out of the Moominial mind-world this album otherwise so magically evokes (besides which, as far as ‘samples taken from recordings of self-administered Olde Worlde scientists’ goes, you really can’t beat Lemon Jelly’s take on the genre). Again, like playing the guitar, it’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just out-of-context in this otherwise quite eerie and unified release.
And that’s what this is: It’s a good release, which generally does exactly what it sets out to do with skill and a nice sense of playful strangeness. It’s totally fine, perfectly adequate. Is it awesome? Not particularly. Like most other things in the ‘dark ambient’ genre, once this album is over, there will be little that stays with you musically. It’s not like any of these pieces will get stuck in your head. Similarly, with the vast (and ever-increasing) number of ‘dark ambient’ and ‘experimental’ and ‘sound art’ artists that plague the information superhighway these days, it’s unlikely that anyone will hear this album and go, ‘Woah, finally! I’ve never heard anything like that before, this has broken new ground!’ But its definitely good while it’s playing, and overall is a completely tolerable release. Would I recommend it to anyone? Maybe. Would I ever listen to it again? Probably. Would I rush out and frantically buy everything else by Hattifnatter because it moved me so much? I don’t think so (and, for now, this is their only release, so the question is entirely hypothetical). Would I be interested in hearing Hattifnatter’s next album (if they ever do one)? Absolutely.