Album Review – Dave Hjin “Live at the Forbidden Auditorium”

Dave Hjin – Live at the Forbidden Auditorium

Cruising around the inter-webs last week I happened upon this recent release and gave the first two songs a quick listen.  They intrigued me and I searched out some information on Dave, learning that he is (or was?…maybe he graduated:) a student in the jazz studies program at Toronto’s Humber College.  As always, these kinds of folks intrigue me as I have had my own fun trying to explore music theory and the many mysteries of making good sounds.  It was then that I knew I had to hear this entire release…both for my own enjoyment and also education.  I figure if nothing else, hearing tunes put together by a legit music scholar could only be a good thing.  Here are my thoughts….

The first selection, “19.11.10” is the star of this record in my opinion.  There is something both triumphant and haunting about this song.  The music brings the high points (especially the drum line), carefully offset by the more melancholy lyrics.  I love the bass line that grinds along underneath and several unique sounds off the keys, random but appropriate.  The vocals take over a bit around 3:05 and provide an uplifting, if slightly chaotic, conclusion.  

“Pre and Post” follows this and starts in a fairly simple way before shifting tone at the 1:50 mark.  That change elevates the atmosphere of the music significantly while still leaving the straightforward lyrical structure running underneath.   Then, rather suddenly about 90 seconds later, everything changes again when the guitar sounds come in by themselves.  Some nice effects also provide literal howling instrumental sounds in this section.  The two parts of this track seem disparate to me although I figure I may be setting myself up for a music lecture…some connection that I do not understand.  I’ll happily take the lecture as a learning opportunity 🙂 

That selection is followed by “Like A Bull,” and I really like the synth melody here and there is a rather disconcerting Vox effect that lends a nice amount of depth to the atmosphere of this track.   This is the song on the album I am a little bit indifferent about although there is really something about the cacophony that begins around 2:55.   It is very interesting and I do like the guitar work in this section although you have to hunt to find it under the mix in some parts.  

Next up is “One Foot Above” which features a pulsing feedback effect over a booming monotone kick drum.  It works very well over simple yet elegant lyrics such as: “When do you think the world will end, when the water’s been dry for longer than we remember.”  I do feel that the middle part of this track goes on a little bit too long and loses some of its impact along the way.  There also is a vocal effect that I am not certain works well from the listener perspective anyway.  The upside of this middle part though it that it really builds some tension.  And that leads to the 4:30 mark.  The guitar here is terrific and releases all that built up suspense while some fantastic atmospheric effects really crash into you.  Around one minute of awesomeness follows ..and then this song once again gets a little bit strange.  

The penultimate offering is “Zalazac Sunca.”  There is, perhaps unsurprisingly given the title, something a little bit summery about this song.   It is simple and clean also and has a lilting sway to it that will leave you humming along long after you have stopped listening.  

The album finishes up with a demo track called “Folk Riff,” which is a simple but nicely put together piece of music.  I really like the track separation on the two guitar parts as it conveys a nice duality if you are listening closely.  Some additional background and atmosphere begins after the first two and a half minutes which expand the tone of this song beyond its simple, folksy beginning.

This is a really nice overall listen and I would definitely recommend checking it out.  The arrangements are so interesting and I am picking up nuances each time I give it another whirl.  If you are so inclined, pay attention to the layering within each song as there is some hidden gems to discover.  I also suspect there are some lessons in there …for me at least.

You can check out this and related music from David at his Bandcamp page https://davehjin.bandcamp.com.

Please remember to support your local music and artists – community is powerful.  

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