A Master Genre Bender
Sometimes an artist goes in a completely different direction than the audience is expecting. One of the most famous examples of all time would be Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music a crushing album comprised entirely of feedback and distortion, bringing harsh noise to the public as a genre and leading to endless theories as to why Reed would ever even consider releasing something like it. In the case of Realisationship by Andrew Hung, the surprise has swung in a completely different direction. Hung, perhaps best known for his role in the Noise/Post-rock dream duo Fuck Buttons, takes a break from creating albums made entirely from the sound palate of a gameboy, and instead opts to create a much more straightforward record filled with vocals, guitars, and all the strange flourishes that Hung has become known for over the years.
The moment Realisationship kicks off, it is apparent this album is going to be nothing like Rave Cave or Fuck Buttons. “Say What You Want” opens with an indie rock-esque drum beat with an energetic acoustic guitar being whimsically plucked on the top mix of the track. If one were to listen hard enough they can catch the smallest of elements from his previous projects in the crunch of the production and in the bouncing instrumentals. The closest comparisons to the early tracks would be Animal Collective, both are glowing and vibrant, they flutter about organically and effortlessly, lifting the spirits of the listener. The album takes a slight shift with “No I Won’t,” the instrumental is more immediately comparable to his past work as the background buzzes with unique noises, the likes of which only Andrew Hung would be capable of finding, leaving the track as a funky exploration of sound, playfully assembled to test the limits of genres while still maintaining a clear boundary on the edges. In that way the songs do resemble his work with Fuck Buttons as they use a previously unheard of sound palate within a genre, such as the classic experimental noise and post rock combinations heard on Street Horrsing or Tarot Sport.
Towards the back half of the album, particularly with the track “Shadows” there is a notable shift in pace. “Shadow” sounds as though it were pulled almost directly out of the ’80s, bass grove and all. The song slinks along with dark synths and distorted guitars that add a unique bounce to the genre, once again showcasing Hung’s knowledge of sound composition and his willingness to experiment with genres. The final track “Open Your Eyes” is much more parsed back in the front than any other track on the album, beginning with a simple acoustic chord that leads into soft brushed drums. The song is uncharacteristically calming for someone like Hung, but nonetheless successful, the vocals are also calm and repetitive, almost as though they were trying to lull the listener into a dreamlike state. Once the choir kicks in the listener is helpless as the song swells into a gloriously soft crescendo that builds until the album end, letting the listener down softly before fading out into silence.
A shift isn’t always a bad thing, sometimes it creates an alternate perspective. In this case Andrew Hung has asserted himself as a masterful genre bender outside of the realms of noise, post rock, and electronic. His ability to flip the script on indie, funk, and synth is unparalleled and should leave listeners excited for future projects whether or not they see him reuniting with Blanck Mass or not.