hhhhh (which should be pronounced as a "heavy outward breath" according to the band's instructions) is a one-man noise- and power electronics-project of one Mike Wulf from the United States. The project made its first release in 2009, and has conjured a whole of five splits and six own releases since; this supposedly being the newest one, as of the date 03/2011.

The EP opens up with harsh and grainy noise-grit, which is backed by some reversed analogue synth waves to give the track more personality, character, and a pleasantly disturbing feel. It has a nice mid-part of tape loops of some metal beats and such, and it gives the track a nice boost. The follower is a total harsh noise-tune with rumbling grainy distortion and some lower-pitch irregular rhythm in the background, and with a couple breaks kicking it into motion it's pretty much flawless in its simplisticity. It has some cleaner synth in the end to keep it from becoming stale, but, sadly, it also softens the tune a bit. The third song is the cleanest and lightest one, but with a soundscape this lo-fi it fits in perfectly. It relies on some manipulated speech samples and analogue notes, with some drones and noise-bursts further feeding the track's chaos. It's a stylish end to side A.

Side B is a calmer one, and serves as a natural step forward from "Default Champion"-song's lighter approach. "Floral Pattern" opens up with some hoarse but light metallic droning, which is followed by a looped and odd-sounding, reversed melody. It's followed by some calm and soft noise sounds that come one at a time to keep up the "safe" atmosphere. Eventually this progress leads to calm ambient, with some additional edge and other small reminders of hhhhh's noisy and experimental tendencies scattered here and there. Avantgardey lo-fi ambient.

The visual side is rather boring. The blue-hued cover is pretty incomprehensible collage of walking people, and the printer-paper covers are one-sided so that's all you're getting. The tape holds the basic infos and a separate download-code, although it seems to have gotten old.

I found the tape enjoyable, and its two-sided structure well describes the artist's level of skill. The lo-fi soundscape makes the different sounds nicely unified and allows the artist to really experiment with his equipment, but also makes the songs a bit too flattened for them to really cause an impact. The aforementioned also makes the songs sound a bit safe, even though they (especially the ones on the B-side) have some avantgarde-influence. Overall the tape is too improvisation-based, and especially the B-side seems to suffer from this; the tracks almost completely let go of the listener a couple of times, and the mixture of "listener-friendly" noise, avantgarde and ambient could've been executed with more personality and effort. On the flipside, this unpredictability and crudeness makes the primitive A-side more interesting and detailed.

Both the sides are a good listen, for sure, and last in listening surprisingly well when thinking of their short lenght. They just don't present enough of concentrated effort from this capable artist, nor make an enough lasting impact. I was left unsure about his goals with the different choices he made with the songs, meaning if he had a target atmosphere or a style; and, frankly, I'm rather certain he had no precise idea either, and because of that he ended up operating somewhere in the midway of different extremes. I'll be waiting to see what he comes up with in the future, and keep on hoping that it will be something as bold.

7 / 10