Kevin Hufnagel – Ashland
First thoughts: Dysrhythmia‘s Psychic Maps doubled up a mature, serrated distortion with acoustic rust; it was great, surrounding the machine-like tech with rich soil. Test of Submission, Dysrhythmia’s follow-up LP, was another beauty but an altogether cleaner blade. Kevin Hufnagel, guitarist of Dysrhythmia and composer of new effort Ashland, splits off from and expands Maps‘ acoustic shade into its own territory, thoroughly explored with layered repetitions and parabolic development in the vein of Steve Reich. Don’t get me wrong, Ashland ingeniously feels crackled with bark and sawdust despite expanding its scope with cratered reverb.
Hufnagel’s own form of precise carpentry is common throughout his solo work while letting soundscapes take an unruly life of their own in collaborative efforts. Take his “Absconders” composition on the long-awaited Colored Sands by Gorguts; there’s a lot of sketching in the margins and ‘accidental’ dissonance that informs the slimy midsection of the song, amounting to one of the band’s all-time finest moments. “The Line Always Snaps” by Dysrhythmia has an urgent climax, with riffs floating out of the hands of the players up to the stratosphere. Contrast these to Transparencies and now Ashland, in which Hufnagel carefully reigns in and examines the beauty of his ideas, wanting not for clarity despite the saturation of fugue-like effects.