The Hirsch Effekt - Holon : Agnosie
There are some albums out there that you find yourself having mixed feelings about. Some albums blow you away, whilst others leave you waiting for 12 songs before you realise it isn’t going to get any better. The Hirsch Effekt’s latest album Holon: Agnosie has left me in a kind of limbo, my feelings about this album change with each song. Isn’t that what we strive for though? An album that makes you ask questions, and not even just about what they are singing about. German is definitely one of my favourite languages to listen to when sung. It’s harshness seems to create a massive contrast when sung over some light sounding musical passage, as is in their intro track Simurgh.
If technicality is your bag, then get a load of these guys. Seriously! Jayus is a complicated well thought out jumble of ups and downs. It’s good, really good in fact, and with its complexity it has to be. There is a fine line with music like this, somehow a combination of bands like Protest the Hero, Placebo and Periphery and only the truly elite can get this right, otherwise it can sound pants. The Hirsch Effekt have no qualms with breaking convention. I mean who really cares if all the chords they play are in key with each other, I know I don’t.
Vocally, there is a healthy mix of aggression and softer tones that come from the singers mouth. This is a fantastic skill to have. With this sort of music every member needs to be the best at what they do and yes they are very good. The overall album quality is professional sounding. The cover arts is freakin’ awesome too.
Agnosie is probably my favourite track of the album – the chorus reminds me of a band called Khoma which I used to find myself escaping to back in those angst filled teen days. If I spoke German, I’d sing along. This album is somewhat of a rollercoaster, one minute the tempo is calm, the next, 16th and 32nd notes are being thrown everywhere like confetti at a wedding. This chaos has so much to it. The myriad of instruments on this album is damned impressive.
You know what follows a post hardcore section? An intricate smooth jazz section, obviously. It’s good to get to hear something that’s so vastly different in stature from anything I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to before. It’s worth pointing out now that if by this point you are not impressed or you are not into this sort of music, then you can stop reading here.
Bezoar is a difficult one to get round your head. At nearly seven minutes long, its a journey, and for those with a weak constitution it could possibly be too much for you. Guitarist Nils Wittrock really lets his skills shine in this one, with the crazy time signatures his ability to punch in and out at literally anywhere throughout the song with sweet lead riffs is admirable. Halfway through this song there’s a large section that sounds like the most technical indie band I’ve ever heard. The ‘bah bah bah bahs’ and lounge style backing is mad. You go from feeling like you’ve just been forced to go white water rafting alone down a violent river and then you’ve hit a beach, a sunny calm beach, one that’s a million miles away from the treacherous waters you experienced coming down the river. Then the tide picks up again and chucks you violently down another dangerous stream, without any armbands on.
I think the Hirsch guys knew this song was a lot as the track Tombeau shows their more sensitive sides. Its a slow one, but something very reminiscent of a Massive Attack track, the trip hop beat with atmospheric effects continuously builds the listener up. This track, above all else reverberates with emotion, the string sections really do justice for building a picture. Had this of been sang in English, I think the song could fare pretty well against many of the guitar toting bands in the charts these days. It’s a song that anyone can appreciate.
The latter half of Holon: Agnosie jumps back into more extreme genre mixing, Moritz “Mr. Moe” Schmidt’s violent shouts remind me of Gallows Ex Singer Frank Carter in Fixum. Then in Athesie the nostalgic sounds of 8-bit chip tune is used as a bass in the verses. The bands love for many different styles of music really shines in this album and in my opinion its what makes it so good. The Hirch Effekt have said this album is a concept album and that there is no chronological order to their songs but each song stands well on its own. I totally agree with this. The use of filler tracks helps too.
Tishcje leads into two of the heavier tracks on the album Dysguiese and Cotard. Filled with influences from Thrash and Punk and using their own crazy formula, you get this mix of insane time signatures, well placed drum fills , dissonant chords and furiosity that can’t be matched through just jamming. I almost envision these guys sitting their with graph paper working out what goes where and how it fits.
Holon : Agnosie album is a wonderful example of musicianship and skill but I am left wondering is this natural? I like all sorts of genres and sub genres of music and whilst I agree some work together, others don’t feel right for me. Should music be written in this way? Perhaps some music has to be written in this way, and whilst I’ll always be a fan of the traditional 4/4 rock track, I think I’ve been swayed. It’s rock, it’s metal, its punk, its indie and its a bit of everything else all in one. Is this the strangest album I’ve had the pleasure of listening to, probably, but that outro at the end of the album is a fair reminder we live in an ever evolving world. This means music changes too, so either embrace it or move over.
Words: Daniel Gregory