Monday 17 June 2013


A friend of mine often sends me songs to listen to or tells me to listen to something and it's become a bit of a running joke that I sometimes don't like what he sends me. Or I like it, but I don't like it enough to write about it. Well, he told me to listen to Hibou a while ago, and I did. I liked it. What Seattle-native Hibou (pronounced 'ee-boo') - real name Peter Michel - makes is a kind of lo-fi, mournful-yet-energetic surf-indie-pop (I'm not very good at defining things, sorry). His Dunes EP was released recently and I decided to write about it now.

Beginning with 'Sunder', a pogo-sticking minimalist dark surf-rock-type song, we're introduced at once to one of the clear points: nice guitar work, which in this song outs itself as tasty jangling harmonies zipping up and down the fretboard, fitting the speed of the track. That focus on little guitar ditties is carried over to the delicate twiddlings in 'Valium', which appear sprightly in the middle of the song with an oriental twist on their melody. The bright guitar sounds contrast, purposely I would reckon, to the otherwise soft and muffled shade of each song, especially with the almost-mournful strings in 'Valium'.

The brightness of the guitar really comes across in the glittering ripples of guitar in 'Above Us', each note like an echoing flash of light in a darkened landscape, tremolo guitar zooming past as a solo later on. It's this guitar that also provides the totally groovesome hook in last song 'Motion'.

The general sound of the EP ranges from the speedy and intense, as in 'Sunder', to the still-quite-speedy-yet-tranquil as you can hear in 'Above Us' and which is followed by the dynamic 'In The Sun', whose final part is noisy and beat-driven. It is all blanketed over with thick reverb that gives the impression of each track being overcome with a blurry fog, where the sharpness of the instruments is replaced with softer tones that seem to merge into one another.

This almost muddy merging of sounds is a lo-fi quality that, whilst channeling some of the bleak atmosphere that typified much of Joy Division's music, gives each song a wide, warm tone - every space is filled by an instrument playing or reverb of that instrument playing. And in the midst of that full sound, the vocals come through not searching for anyone to hear them but still distinct with their own trail of echo - nonchalant.

Overall it is a rich sound dotted with flights of adept guitar brilliance. There. Nice one Mr Hibou.

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