How many EDM superstars from the Midwest can you name? You’ll be scratching your head for some time trying to think of more than a handful; as a region, it’s not exactly at the forefront of the United States’ recent mainstream fascination with all things electronic. That could be why Huerco S (aka Brian Leeds) has moved out of Kansas City to New York, where there’s more of a chance that he’ll find an audience for particular his brand of techno.
In order to best describe Colonial Patterns, his first LP, it seems like a good idea to skip to the end. Closing track Angel (Phase) is a slow burner of sorts. The melody, which is practically stuck on a loop for six minutes, is a flickering one that is the only distinguishable feature if you were to listen closer; the rhythm section is buried deep into the background.
There are plenty of similar-sounding songs to be found on Colonial Patterns. It’s evident that Huerco S has found his own style and is keen to persist with it; an album full of four-to-the-floor bangers, this ain’t. It could be dismissed as repetitive or dull, but that would be ignoring some of the meticulous and admirable craftsmanship on display. Even when he does repeat himself, the overall sound is so alluring that it doesn’t really matter. There are just enough nuances and diversions in his formula to make this worth paying attention to.
As soon as the eerie, mysterious, teasing, scene-setting introduction Struck With Deer Lungs gets going, you’re already curious about what’s to come. Anagramme Of My Love seems to have a vocal loop heavily submerged underneath everything, including a prominent beat that leaps as enthusiastically as a new puppy. As it progresses, that loop is messed with more and more. At first, it’s impenetrable, but it’s actually pretty easy to find affection for it.
The second half isn’t quite as consistent as the first but there a couple of standouts. Prinzif opens with swirls and a low rumble slung alongside a reasonably energetic tempo before deciding to catch the listener off guard with a change in sound – by immediately withdrawing towards a more ambient state. Eventually, a subtle groove re-emerges. It’s pleasing to see a producer decide to take risks that, more often than not, pay off in spades. Canticoy maintains its starry-eyed wonder throughout, but that’s not the most interesting aspect of the track. Instead, a two-note melody rises up and down, but it remains firmly hidden behind sharp beats.
There are a couple of interludes and shortened cuts that probably could have been left off the tracklist, such as Hopewell (Devil). But overall, Colonial Patterns shuns sleekness for seductive crackles and is all the more refreshing for it. This is a debut that is, at times, rewarding and marks out Huerco S as a producer to watch.