With a background as a professional drummer, you might expect Sascha Bachmann’s work as Hand to be heavily rhythmic- but instead, “Suburbaen” is ambient music, but made through the filter of someone with rhythm in their heart. “How would William Basinski sound if he made music for the dance floor?”, it asks. Based on that answer, certainly nobody would be dancing- as this is ambient electronic music, with just the lightest of rhythm woven into it as soft pulses and waves of hums.
The press release asks questions like “what do we listen to in our mother’s belly during pregnancy?”, for which Hand’s answer appears to be evident at the beginning of the oddly titled “Two Drink Minimum”, with its steady heartbeat, sometimes calm, sometimes muddled alongside other abstract and unrecognisable sounds, reprised for the album’s closure “To Drink Maximum” [sic]. The urgency rises a little as the track progresses, but there’s always a fluidity- if this is meant to represent childbirth, it’s a remarkably smooth ride.
At its more upbeat moments, there are hints of Tangerine Dream here, particularly in some of the washy soft noise waves that roll over analogue pulsing, or the dark purposeful synth notes that open “No For An Answer”. But it is consistently amelodic, focussing on the hum and drone and never conceding to a tune. A darker side is more evident in pieces like “For Eliane”, where the drone is both noisier and more sinister- and yet again, notably a little womb-like.
The rhythm is a touch more prominent, but marginally so, in the second half of the release. “Note To Self” is perhaps what unborn babies hear when their mothers are listening to loud heavy drum and bass. Glitchy, damp rhythms are always present but never dominant. “Crescent” has a more foregrounded electronic bleeping set against an almost jazzy abstract series of drum incidences.
It’s a curious piece of deep electronic dronework, which adds just the tiniest smatterings of more mainstream sounds to an otherwise very familiar-sounding ambient framework. It isn’t an out-and-out fusion though, more of a regular ambient work with more texture, and as such, it does work rather well.