Chicago-based contemporary electronic musician Steve Hauschildt has composed panoramas of synthesised sound for over a decade. First within his former band, Emeralds, an American touchstone of 2000s home-recorded psychedelic noise music, and later across a steady and critically-acclaimed stream of solo releases spanning ambient techno, arpeggiated electronica and post-kosmische styles utilising synthesisers, computers, and digital processing. In 2018, he extended a collection of rich, visceral tracks titled Dissolvi, his first release on Ghostly International and his most collaborative work to date. Just a year later, Hauschildt returns with Nonlin, an album that’s freer, leaner, and looser, both structurally and conceptually; less linear compared to its predecessor, but still captivating. Developed and recorded in several studios during and around the edges of tour — Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Tbilisi, and Brussels — this material emulates an alienating encounter with a smattering of places, a replicant of culture shock, a solitary and stark experience with uncanny environments, melody and dissonance as oblique locales.
Nonlin finds Hauschildt evolving his palette of tools, integrating modular and granular synthesis. The improvisatory and generative nature of modular systems, when paired with his signature grid-oriented and hand-played techniques, guides these compositions slightly out of line to hypnotic effect. Opener “Cloudloss” permeates the mix with an unsettling smog, which reappears and all but engulfs “A Planet Left Behind.” On cuts like “Attractor B” and “Subtractive Skies,” pockets of air rest between sequenced pulses, whose crumpling and flattening folds build into a restrained rapture of crisp frequencies and milky reverb-swallowed coruscations.
The album’s title track and centrepiece logs on to a foreign network, a fractured percussion signal that modulates and stutters into static amidst curious melodic sparkling in the hazy bandwidth. “Reverse Culture Music” casts an elegant and brooding stream of strings, pizzicato and churning bow from Chicago cellist Lia Kohl, against chiming minimalist synth frameworks. A surprising pattern emerges in the taciturn systems at work. Hauschildt continues to expand his already horizon-wide repertoire, here exploring the effects of corrupting coordinates; a flight subject to the collapsable abilities of time in remote spaces, a smearing of the axis to elegiac ends.