Hav Lyfe – ‘Hav Lyfe’ (Sonic Router)

Sonic Router’s third outing in its manifestation as a label harnesses the enigmatic talents of Hav Lyfe, a producer with unknown provenance bar a handful of Soundcloud offerings and an affiliation to Brighton’s similarly intriguing WANDA GROUP. In the protagonist’s own words the self-titled LP was accomplished on “an old Pentium and recorded straight to this little mp3 player”. Humble beginnings, which lend an unrefined, bedroom-produced quality to this disorienting 10-track excursion.

Truthfully, the 10 elements of this release are not ‘tracks’ at all, rather improvised sketches, drafts or loops; whilst some feel formed and organic, others diffuse into their own giddy abstraction or end abruptly. The album’s lack of structural convention feels elementary to Hav Lyfe’s equally wonky approach to programming, but it makes for a complex and at times uncomfortable ride.

‘bb’ sets the tone with a de-tuned melodic loop that has all the potential to sound beautiful, instead opting for warped and urgent. The crunchy drum cycle of ‘Civivic’ takes on a distorted, hypnotic quality towards the end of it’s orbit, before giving way to the unsettling interlude of ‘Dion2cool’, where nightmarish fills battle gorgeous, mournful strings.

Hav Lyfe seems to sense the uneasiness he has created when offering ‘Mond’, an ethereal, beatless moment that paves the way for ‘No Title 22’ and ‘Ocean Terrace’; beautifully fractured, melodic trips that see the producer at his most alluring. ‘U Ain’t Bout That’ sounds like a broken musical jewellery box, it’s clockwork mechanism gradually dissolving amongst lo-fi crackles and a stolen cough. The three-minute white noise conclusion of ‘Wristgame’ is neither here nor there.

Although this release lacks the cohesion to feel like an album, it triumphs as a collection of textures and expressions. For every disjointed stumble there is a meditative, mesmerising twist, and it is this odd juxtaposition that both challenges and excites the listener. Those looking for a break from the polished, conformist confines of much of today’s electronic music – Hav Lyfe is your guy.

The 12″ vinyl version of ‘Hav Lyfe’ is available in all good stores now

Ed Oliver

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