Erasable Assignments by KarhideRelease date: November 13, 2020
The ever prolific Karhide returns with an especially ambient offering of gentle electronica. Erasable Assignments is drenched in reverb and inhabited predominantly by luscious pads and synthesisers with nicely polished percussion acting as a bedrock for the tracks. It’s a perfect soundtrack to a late night drive or a focused writing session. Immersive, smooth and full of warmth.
‘Delta’ opens the album and it could easily be from a synthwave soundtrack for a tv show. It makes me feel as though Karhide would make a really good producer for a pop group, there’s definitely space for some vocals here as well. It does lean further into ambient and electronica than synth wave though and as such offers a fairly unique sound to explore, it’s not reinventing the wheel, but it does seem to draw from a vast array of influences to avoid any stagnation. One influence I feel is being drawn on, whether intentionally or not is Vangelis.
‘Constant Pool’ begins with keys that feel brilliantly Blade Runner-esque. Despite how many times the ostinato occurs in the track it never looses its grip on my brain. There’s something about Karhide’s production on those keys that’s just magnetic and whilst it does dwarf the instrumental below, everything else is strong enough to create that journey with the main line melody.
‘Hex’ sounds so blissed-out, it’s like hopping through a field of daisies whilst candy flipping. There’s a slightly sickly element to it as well, with these nauseating, head-spinning pads stretching out to create a sense of trying to put on a happy face whilst things go to shit. It kind of feels like you think you’ve hit the peak and then it keeps escalating and suddenly you’re not so sure it’s fun anymore. The bass roars are very soothing though and the keys try to keep things on a good track. Like that one friend that is trying to make sure everyone drinks water without making them feel like they’re in danger or too trashed, but, alas, there’s always a suspicion that comes with a glass of water when you’re fucked.
The title track gently rears its head into the album with some really friendly mallets before slowly gliding into instrumental trip-hop territory as the “rhythm section” enters the picture. ‘Erasable Assignments’ continues the euphoria, but it doesn’t have any of the same foreboding as ‘Hex’. Instead it kind of feels like everything is going to be ok. I love how it unravels into the low-end and is followed-up immediately by the ear-massaging sub bass of ‘Waitlist’. ‘Waitlist’ again feels like walking through a rave, only this time, it kind of feels like being in that stage of walking around totally unable to process what’s going on. There’s an almost natural feel to it, in the sense of awe and wonder, things happening with a great sense of majesty as result of how incomprehensible they are. The keys and the drums just sound really nicely polished as well, although, that seems to be true throughout the album.
‘Saltburn’ takes things into more of a neoclassical direction, it has a weird kind of late 80s/early 90s drama soundtrack vibe. Huge reverberant keys playing music that sounds very gentle and romantic, but also bittersweet. The effervescent bubbles of arpeggiated synth and the big ballad rock drums add to this whole vibe of swaying hands in the ear as well. It does get a little bit piercing when the piano a whacked at full pelt though, might just be my headphones though, to be fair. I find the contrast between the aforementioned track and ‘Walker Circulation’ to be quite stark in the context of the album, but it seems to work well. The former is all about instant gratification built around the piano, but the latter is very much a slow-burning ambient peace designed to foster introspection. ‘Three Amigos’ takes this direction further, albeit with a gentle almost birdsong emission from the synths.
In Erasable Assignments, Karhide gives the listener a calm and melodic space to think in a world of panic, noise and sensory overstimulation.