Huerco S. – ‘Colonial Patterns’

23.09.13 Words by: Steph Kretowicz

Self-consciously “Midwestern” and alluding to the stylistic elements of Chicago and Detroit house and techno respectively, Brian Leeds’s (aka Huerco S.'s) 'Colonial Patterns' thrives on knowing its context. Kansas born and bred, the 22-year old producer pulls the sounds of computer malfunctions, radio transmissions and warped tape recordings from YouTube and online, only to drench them in the hiss and crackle of vinyl and cassette; outmoded formats degraded by age and fading through time. Constructing a wistful outline of unknown narratives, the long-time history enthusiast and art school drop-out explores the ancient infrastructures, both real and imaginary, that did and continue to exist in the region where he grew up.

A rough sketch of minimal analogue synth lines and repetitive shallow kick beats underpin a record that is less a utilitarian drive to dance and more a compelling journey through time. Its title, 'Colonial Patterns', refers to the European colonisation of the Americas, particularly the US Midwest, where Spanish conquistadors roamed, repressing its native population, dislocating, erasing and ultimately denying the existence of an entire culture; rewriting the past and replacing it with their own.

This is the ultimate drive of 'Colonial Patterns', where Leeds – in his extra-curricular fascination for sifting through the historical esoterica of his grandmother’s ancient encyclopaedias – makes reference to 16th century fairy tales and sci-fi architectural concepts in an attempt at excavating and reconstructing a lost past in his dreamy, textured sound scapes. An engrossing expedition in itself, the Algonquian word for a social gathering, Canticoy, wavers through aural decay before finding a subtle, blunt rhythm in ritual repetition, while the un-Google-able 'Iińzhiid declares its existence outside of the digital sphere within metallic polyrhythms that oscillate around an intermittent, flat crash, before fading out into the blackness from which it emerged.

There are parallels here with other young bedroom escapists searching for – or, more specifically, creating – their own truths under the lo-fi fuzz and analogue drum machines of an aesthetic reflecting the spiritual energy they’re all trying to tap into. Vinyl Williams’ pre-Egyptian imagery and hazy metaphysical interests, even Amanda Brown’s early Pocahaunted project spring to mind. Except where these artists – particularly the latter – risk exoticising these elements in what could be construed as an uncomfortable act of cultural appropriation and, worse, caricature, Huerco S. avoids that with a consciousness of his own position within the existing geopolitical map. The darker hauntological elements of his sound reinforce an implicit critique as a warped, looping melody and a scrambled broadcast struggles to be heard through an insistent beat in Prinzif, echoing Derrida’s troubling historical spectres still lingering beneath the foundations of Western civilisation. 

Making links across time and space, past, present and future are presented simultaneously. The remnants of Cahokia’s ancient city and Paolo Soleri’s sci-fi architectural concepts are brought together in the dusty, pulsing ambience of Monks Mound (Arcology). The highly urbanised reality of America’s Pre-Columbian past is revealed through the industrial rhythms of Quivira – one of the legendary ‘Seven Cities of Gold’ Spanish conquistadors went mad trying to find. Riddled with references to a fascinating world beyond the accepted histories of an Imperialist regime, 'Colonial Patterns' is an exercise in executing ideas that go well beyond the music, itself a deeply immersing and thought-provoking experience. 

7/10

Software will release 'Colonial Patterns' on the 24th September 2013. Read about why Huerco S. loves his laptop in our interview with him here.