hangtime - BLOODSKY (Album Review)

You can't separate the art from the artist when you don't know who the artist is. hangtime is, presumably, a duo. Any information available online about the group is contradictory. Their Spotify bio alludes to hangtime being a solo project, while from their Instagram, one can glean they are an anonymous duo from New Mexico who formed 'during lockdown' and let their music speak for itself. Real names or musical histories aside, the Socorro deserts from whence this elusive project emerged can be heard in the expansive, unyielding, and ultimately fire sound of "BLOODSKY", the group's third album. 

hangtimes' not-so-humble bio likens their apocalyptically dark and atmospheric electro-rock to Nine Ince Nails, Massive Attack, and Flying Lotus, a tall order, especially for a group who are only two years into existence. Yet, there is something deliciously surprising about the vagueness on which the moody, hard-hitting and oft-compelling amalgamations of pop, mumble rap, and industrial electro tracks operate.  

"BLOODSKY" is 42 minutes of commingling styles. From the accessible and self-deprecating "Someone Else" to the histrionic tension of "Bird Box", hangtime employ galvanising drums, whirling synths, and straight-forward emotion ("I never feel safe") without compromising the potentially-alienating sense of the new. Such is the case on "Unholye", which finds both explosive bursts of workout-ready adrenaline and relatable moments of melancholy before fading out in minimal techno. Elsewhere, "Planet Party" sees twisted hip-hop and gothic-electro-pop merge into an intriguing and somewhat shockingly commercially viable track. The restive "Peter" splices in spoken word samples of outdated takes on hallucinogenic drugs, and the lyrics are flavoured with cocky grunts a la Ye. These brutish sentiments can be found across many of the album's 12 songs, most notably the searching "My Story", which wonderfully abstracts its rebel-with-a-cause attitude on a canvas of textured beats and inventively ear-catching electronic production.

Held together by an impetuous drive to express and innovate, "BLOODSKY" is an interesting collection of songs. Admittedly, 'interesting' is a lazy choice of adjectives, but it's also accurate. Not only do these tracks have little in the way of comprehensible structure, but they mix aggressive machoism with soulful vulnerability and give precedence to originality over likeability. The results are sometimes patchy, and the texture-focused musicality is sparse and not always memorable. However, this album has great moments, and hangtime adds weight to their claims of likeness to the heavyweights.