Hourloupe - Three Nights in the Wawayanda (Album Review)

The decline in the reading of literature is a well-documented phenomenon. The bottomless ocean of human imagination, which can most effectively be communicated through literature, is being left behind for more easily digestible and visually stimulating sources of external information. The book killed the spoken word, the radio killed the book, the video killed the radio, and the internet killed the video. The further we progress towards convenience, the further we find ourselves from the source of storytelling.

Harnessing the visual qualities of condensed free verse and experimental music, US-based duo Houloup tote the past into the present with Three Nights in the Wawayanda, the final instalment of a triptych started with 2022's Future Deserts and Sleepwalker. A collaboration between writer and artist Frank Menchaca and musician Anar Badalov, the beautifully layered and dichotomous world of Hourloupe is delicately showcased throughout fifteen tracks of spoken word and genre-bending music.


Menchaca's words are trim and lean, full of transient verbs and iridescent nouns. What microphone were these vocals recorded with? Their clarity, depth and nuance are expertly captured and processed. They are more acidic than Sleepwalker in delivery and language; words are delivered with more biting cynicism, confidence, and beauteously imagistic free-verse. These words sit atop entrancingly far-reaching music that touches on IDM, industrial, ambient, and experimental, which, contrastingly, appears to have less of a ph level than Future Deserts. The result is a balanced and often heavenly surge of variegated expression. 

Imagery is rich across the collection, and the listener can find themselves fingering a lone pearl in a handbag or on a lake of ice with "throbbing dancers", all while bopping along to the dramatic downtempo style of "Postcard Found in the Woods" or the dark electropop beat of "Tortoise Boxing". Being a substantial release both qualitatively and quantitively, the experience of listening can feel novelesque, challenging to get through in one sitting, written in a language you need to decode before you can fully understand what's happening, and filled with world-sized imagery, storytelling, and knowledge. However, there is plenty of musical richness to provide calories for the required focused listening. This is especially true of the instrumental tracks "Fragment 1" and "Fragment 2".

Three Nights in the Wawayanda was inspired by a newspaper article from the late nineteenth century: 

"At the house party on Saturday night, Miss Cole boasted of catching rabbits. A trek ensued, and she and Mister Carter, still in formal attire, set off spending three nights in the Wawayanda." 

These words act as a springboard for the character-driven world that follows and as a hauntological muse that connects oral traditions from the past with supermodern performance and production techniques.