Mhva is a musician from Oslo, Norway who’s glitchy drone / noise soundscapes have garnered some positive response within the soundcloud community and within soundcloud threads on /mu/ which isn’t hard to understand where this following comes from once you listen to his work. Warmer / Colder is a double album consisting of two separate EP’s. Since these two EP’s are made to be played as a whole I decided to review them as an entire album instead of reviewing them both separately which does not necessarily mean that they cannot be enjoy apart from each other.
Warmer / Colder is full of dark mysterious soundscapes and collages of noise in the repetitive fashion of drone. Like most drone recordings the tracks on this album are quite lengthy and change very little sonically, fortunately there are elements of noise, glitch, and even some traditional piano playing that are present throughout these two EPs which do well to prevent the content from getting boring for listeners who may be new to or impatient with the genre while allowing the songs to remain at a glacial pace for familiar listeners. There are many moments of subtle change throughout these two releases; tiny shifts in sound, quiet background noises, drones within drones, and silent tectonic movements that all come together to create a collage of sorts which is one of the fascinating aspects of drone. It is this ability to create the illusion of doing more with less and when you begin to pick up on these acute changes it is at that point that what you are hearing becomes more than just repetitious raw noise and transforms into an actual experience.
I found myself immediately in a state of calmness with the first track which features some simple drones with a bit of foreground noise that becomes progressively more apparent throughout the music, a formula that is explored throughout the album. ‘Pretty Late’ is made up of lumbering melancholic piano chords that are fittingly pieced together with unintelligible spliced samples that act as a musical and textural background element throughout the track. The samples, although minor, give the track a feeling of sadness, not in such a way that it is depressing but in a weird beautiful kind of way making this track to be amongst mhva’s more musical and accessible. This isn’t the only song to feature remnants of traditional sounding instrumentation; “The Punctum” a track on Warmer features some similar piano chords that play amongst a sea of colorful sounds that come into and out of the track.
Mhva creates some interesting experimental compositions that are familiar enough for fans of this style of music to remain interested while being different enough in it’s own right to achieve his own niche within the genre but the music does lack structure and content in which there are moments where I found myself growing bored or impatient with the progression on some of the songs, particularly on a few of the longer tracks such as ‘Beetle’ and ‘Enginery’. I am well aware that this type of music rides on a lack of content but in the context of what mhva has created, what is here is not sparse enough to be interesting in an ultra-minimal way nor is it dense enough to be something I would come back to often, especially when taking into account that the album spans two lengthy EPs. The combination of all these sounds creates some great textures but there is a point where these good ideas fail to become something musical and simply remain ideas, in this case a collection of interesting sounds.
Warmer / Colder is an example of what could have been a truly unique and powerful piece of music that barely falls short of its own expectations. Regardless, I cannot stress enough that with all forms of experimental music the listener themselves are often required to do some of the work as well in order to appreciate what one is being exposed to so with that said, I think this can be something great if the listener is willing to dig deep enough and remain patient in doing so.
Overall rating: 6.8
Favorite Tracks: ‘Five Nights’, ‘Pretty Late’, ‘The Punctum’
Recommended: Like being in a room full of printers that are simultaneously dying as they all attempt to finish a final job.