What is a guitar, anyway? That’s a question Karhide has been asking for more than a decade now.
From early releases that coupled the blowtorch intensity of Pelican with the assembly-line heaviness of Godflesh, his initial answer seemed to be a declaration of war.
On Erasable Assignments, Karhide’s approach to the guitar is much more expansive, sketching out scopic vistas, the guitar a texture at times indistinguishable from the myriad synths and pads on tracks like album centrepiece ‘Walker Circulation’. What is a guitar? We’re not sure any more.
This time around, as the span of Karhide’s music grows, you’re more likely to find a reference to the gods of soundtracking like Olafur Arnalds, John Carpenter or Trent Reznor than to his earlier influences like Big Black or Fudge Tunnel.
Unlike previous album All Lost, All Gone, composed entirely on the road in that dreadful space between check-in and check-out, in locations as far-flung as South Korea and Botswana, Erasable Assignments comes from a place of stability.
A change in lifestyle, a year spent in one place, and a studio stripped down to the absolute essentials allowed Karhide to focus on expanding his horizons musically rather than physically. This new-found stability finds its expression in confidence – on his longest release yet, tracks like ‘Delta’ and ‘Three Amigos’ find room to breathe and express themselves fully.
Those global travels haven’t gone to waste, though – for the first time, Karhide blends field recordings from all over the world into each track, as textures, layers and as a natural accompaniment to the exploratory nature of the music. You’ll hear arpeggiated synths and metronomic beats, sure, but then you’ll be certain you just heard birdsong, and was that a passing storm – and are those Alpine cowbells? Nothing is quite as it seems with these assignments.
What is a guitar, anyway – and more to the point, does the question matter when the music is as lush and rewarding as Erasable Assignments?
Erasable Assignments is released on November 13, 2020