Hulm - Do you have a minute? (Album Review)

Given that this collection was released on April 1st, one might mistake it for a practical joke. A general lack of seriousness is communicated throughout, from the comically absurd cover art to the track titles that spell out "A MINUTE", "Do you have a minute?" sees Hulm create bastardisations of sounds that are so unpleasant and disconcerting that one feels the atmosphere around them become thick with tension. Indeed, this is not music, but sound art, and the musicians, or artists, do an impressive job of subjugating the audience's world with their intense stew of saxophone, clarinet, electric guitars, and dubbed circuits. It turns out the piece was commissioned by the CCCB, the Centre de Cultura Contempor├ánia de Barcelona, for their exhibition of "The Mask Never Lies," so, like most sound art, there's always subtext. The following is translated from Spanish, "The exhibition proposes an underground history of the last century and a half under the sign of a desecrated mask, which infiltrates the political landscape as an instrument in the service of perverse exercises of power or as a tool for the construction of identity in the world." It's pretty heady stuff. But does it work as a standalone piece, removed from the context from whence it came? It's hard to say. Because of its brevity, repeated listens are necessary to decipher what's going on, yet the technical accomplishments discovered upon closer investigation can be revelatory. 

From ancient Egypt up to the latest filter that turns your face into, I don't know, whatever vegetable you are, our species is obsessed with the idea of covering up our natural identities to personify inner worlds. It's what makes horror movie characters like Michael Myers and Scream so intriguing; we're supposed to be scared, but we're oddly fascinated about what the mask is hiding. And in a much less literal sense, we all cover our natural instincts for social purposes. We have manners and follow social codes, but no matter what, we are all animals, hiding behind a mask of civility. This intense and odd listen might help you discover what's behind your mask, and If you'd like to have your world pixelated for precisely seven minutes, this will do the job, no joke.


Hulm - Do you have a minute? (Album Review)
Reviewed by Jay Honeycomb on April 11th 2022
Rating: 3