In the press release, Irish sound artist Mark Waldron-Hyden explains: “I wanted to make an album that was heavily influenced by drone and repetition while still using vocals, but more for texture than for hooks or whatever.” It’s a perfect description. In spite of my unconditional cluelessness about his previous work, either alone or in a group called The Sunshine Factory, I have been enjoying Stream Segregation every day since last Friday. It’s that good.
Let me tell you why. First of all, no trace of “low-budget esoteric” commonplace in sight, notwithstanding the use of abundant reverberation on both the vocal component and the looping matter. It is indeed a textural choice, Waldron-Hyden appearing as an expert manoeuvrer in that sense. The voice may sing, pray, murmur in solitude or in multi-tracked chorales; but it never sticks out like a sore thumb, merging rather flawlessly with the multiple echoes of a surreal atmosphere.
In regard to the drones, there’s nothing less than mesmerizing to be heard across the nine tracks. The spectral hues of each source are enhanced by a wise collocation of frequencies, from clearly discernible subsonic throbs to inebriating harmonic vapours. Chord changes do happen, an evocative “from-the-other-room” piano summoning forth ghosts of bygone ages (“Night Visiting Song”, part 2). This sort of primeval fog melts just everything into a euphonious liquid that doesn’t remain stuck to the fingers.
With rare exceptions – I’m thinking of the obliquely Eno-esque “Did You Hide” – the overall feel conveyed by repeated spins revolves around a “Richard Skelton-meets-Rapoon” axis, a vague sonic hint in absence of actual comparative coordinates. In pieces such as “Mis-shapen” and “Take Me” – the latter a wonderful electronic cuckoo clock escorting us towards oneiric oblivion – Waldron-Hyden’s music reveals an essential innocence, which is enough to warrant one’s affection.