HYPER FLUX by Herva
Favorite Tracks: “Nasty MF” “Solar Xub,” “Zykmed”
In 2001, Baha Men’s “Who Let The Dogs Out?” won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording. While we as a society have agreed that a Grammy is not an endorsement of something’s artistic value, Baha Men’s victory indicates a very superficial view of dance music. As long as it makes you dance, no matter how vapid or repetitive, then it’s deserving of praise. It’s an insultingly low bar to set and marginalizes the genre’s most boundary-pushing and ambitious work. However, HYPER FLUX’s appeals to experimentation are admirable but ultimately insufficient. It’s a dance record that is not danceable due to a lack of pure kinetic energy, and not mesmerizing due to how predictable its initial unpredictability becomes.
One complaint that people make about techno is that it just sounds like noise to them. It’s the musical equivalent of salad; a bunch of random ingredients thrown together with no care for their quantity or compatibility with other elements. Nonetheless, there is a clear difference between a good and bad salad, and Herva certainly picks out some exotic ingredients. The sonic palette he creates is diverse, with samples of babies crying on “Lly Spirals” and bubbling water and tapping glass on “Rule the Sun,” alongside a wide range of mechanical groans and beeps. Herva also incorporates organic instrumentation like harps and pianos for the first time as well. There’s a balanced blend of deep, bassy rumbles and lighter, more ethereal tones, and listening to the jittery noises bounce back and forth across your headphones is definitely the right way to experience this thing.
Speaking of how to experience HYPER FLUX, the only way to get through all 52 minutes of this thing is to be doing something else alongside it. It’s background noise, not because it has no vocals, but because it sounds too much like random noises you could hear just walking around an assembly line or through your office and listening to malfunctioning printers. This is 52 minutes of noise arbitrarily divided into 12 songs that usually start out strong, but trail off into a haze where you can’t tell if you’re halfway through a song or nearing the end of it.
For a guy who is often tagged as being disco-influenced, there isn’t any tight rhythm or melody to guide any of it, and the overall tone is far more menacing than light or shimmering.
The problem with calling any of this experimental is that experimental music can’t be boiled down to a formula as easily as HYPER FLUX. In terms of texture it may be diverse, but the structure of each song becomes eerily similar far too early in the record. Throw in a punchy drum beat that loops incessantly and lasts for entire tracks, add a blooping keyboard melody that sounds like a ringtone, and then surround it with random noises and vocal samples. Herva does start to break such a formula toward the tail end of the record, like the ominous piano ballad “Dedicated,” featuring the ethereal vocals of Mar G, and the apocalyptic “Zykmed” that could serve as a great opener of a dystopian sci-fi movie. By then, however, the listener is already so fatigued by how numbing the rest of the record is.
Not all dance music has to make you dance, but if it doesn’t make you want to get your jam on in the club, it had better be more interesting to listen to than HYPER FLUX. It’s clear that Herva is a talented enough engineer with an ear for unique sounds and samples, but he can’t compose a decent song to save his life or know when to close the club down before everyone falls asleep from exhaustion. Dance music deserves to be taken a lot more seriously than the obnoxious bro culture of Calvin Harris or the Chainsmokers, but HYPER FLUX is not good evidence of this.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend