William Henry Meung - Hiraeth and Limerence
Three weeks ago i'd not heard William Henry Meung's name before, and now it seems to be coming at me from several directions - expect more from the man in the coming weeks. Still, it's Horn of Plenty who first brought the NZ-based artist to my attention, and are also the first to commit his music to a full length vinyl release despite a couple of decades of activity in the underground via CD-Rs, tapes and such like. As you might expect from such an endeavour, Hiraeth and Limerence dives into recent archives, drawing from multiple tape and phone recordings made in Dunedin between 2016-19, what's said to be a personally challenging period for Meung that's duly reflected in this dark-hued, gloomy material. Since this is on Horn of Plenty, we already know not to expect much in terms of fidelity, but like label mates Nein Rodere and Little Skull, Meung is particularly adept at letting the quality of recording form part of the story. There's mystery in the murk. The kind of mystery that underpins classic DIY private universe music of this manner, a haunting confluence of detuned, close-mic-d guitars and keys, backwards tape loops and quixotic electronics, unorthodox percussion and doleful singing that imagines an audience of just one. And while it feels cathartic (song titles like Gnawing Your Way of the Trap, The Panopticon and Night of the Beast are illustrative of an underlying darkness), it's not an entirely sunless affair, the veil of sadness occasionally lifted to reveal a piano-led ballad or a folk-y hymnal, and wait until you get to that final track... Given location and approach, references to This Kind of Punishment/Peter Jefferies feel apt, though i'd also like to add early Smog sans the wholesale misanthropy and People Skills' "South Island in an armoured car" alterno-pop universe into the mix too. Which i'd say equates to the kind of inward-gazing, outsider communiques that are held in very high esteem around these parts.
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