Harris, Mick Hednod Sessions
Grade
A-
 
Also Try
Quoit
Bill Laswell
Scorn

As an experimental artist, Mick Harris' industrial music has certainly evolved over the years. Having spent time with the death metal band, Napalm Death, he left the act to start Scorn, a more industrial/electronic act that evolved as the years moved on, featuring far less organic elements and stripping down many elements that might have been extraneous to the musician. Mick also produced work under different names, focusing on varying aspects of the genre (like Lull's rolling soundscapes and Quoit's heavy drum and bass stylings).

In 1999, Mick recorded four vinyl singles known as the Hednod Sessions (and later released a special CD of bonus tracks called Having It). Fortunately for fans of the artist, all of the sessions were compiled together on this two CD set. Each disc features two of the sessions and a handful of the bonus tracks. The music is completely electronic - featuring a large focus on beats and underlying tone. There are no catchy riffs or grooves here.

In terms of Mick Harris' musical catalog, the Hednod Sessions fit in a location somewhere between Logghi Barogghi and Zander - largely barren musical landscapes that feature low tone soundscapes to give depth to the looped beats. As you listen to the thirty tracks in order, there is certainly an evolution as the music feels as though it grows less sparse and more layered as the album progresses. Early on, though, there is certainly a sparse, almost lonely feel to the beats, as if the listener is left to toil alone.

It's rather hard to go track by track, pointing out certain aspects for each as many of the tracks just flow into one another, shifting tones, or altering the beat's pace. For those who aren't deep into the genre, a first pass on this album may leave them feeling as though it's a bit repetitive as most of the time, the beats make little variance within the body of the track. But if one pays attention, the underlying notes certainly waver in more unique efforts. This is never more evident than in Astray, which keeps a solid beat, accented by a rolling low tone that keeps the effort interesting.

Audio signatures familiar to Mick Harris show up all over the place, like the higher pitched tone that flows in and out of Dropped. Screener and Red Triangle feel as though they're lost tracks from Zander. While the argument could be made that a lot of this album feels pulled from other efforts, it's uniquely created to feel complete in and of itself. Most albums that featured loops tend to fall into a repetitive nature, but with a lot of the underlying sound work, Mick has done a nice job making the tracks unique while fitting into the overall theme well.

And, of course, there are times where Mick just wants to mix things up, as in Bale, which has a great beat balanced by some deep rolling tones. Backroom comes out with a We Will Rock You beat that actually brings a smile to your face when you hear in what direction he takes it. Sweet As has a crazy deep electronic tone that stands up in front of the timid looped beat.

If you are a Mick Harris fan or just enjoy the genre, this is a must buy. If you're new to the genre, this album is more approachable than most, but the sparseness of tone that it provides may be a bit offsetting until you start to pay attention to the underlying audio. In all, I would say that it's worth the time to hunt down.

- - Vane

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