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Album Review: Hyetal – Modern Worship

Bristol-based producer Hyetal (otherwise known as David Corney) initially came to our attention with his first full-length, Broadcast, in 2011. ‘Hyetal’ – I’m reliably informed by Google – means ‘of or relating to rain or rainy regions’. Like Corney’s debut album, Modern Worship is built on the same foundation of aggressive percussion, a torrent of relentless drumming like water pounding on glass. But, there also seems to be a newer, broader progression of ideas, perhaps partly down to Gwilym Gold’s input. “The stuff we wrote together took the record in a different direction,” Corney told me when I recently interviewed him for PlanetNotion. “It covers a lot more ground than Broadcast I think, and he definitely helped with that.”

At times Modern Worship is alarmingly abrupt, frenzied and kind of sensorially overwhelming. It’s not difficult to understand why Hyetal has been previously associated with terms such as ‘cinematic’ – track one, ‘Forefathers’, conjures images of a distorted urban landscape glimpsed in a state of semi-consciousness through the windows of an erratically driven taxi. Thematically it’s an album which seems to locate itself within an industrial metropolis; clues lie in the track titles themselves (‘The City is Ours’, ‘1000 Lights’) and there’s something about his use of bright synths alongside understated, gloomy resonances that evokes the uncertainty of a city after dark.

‘Left’ and ‘Four Walls’ provide some light relief from the propellant force of Corney’s now signature use of vintage-inspired bass. The latter, in particular, is more sprawling and tonal; typified by gentle builds and Gold’s crystalline vocal, it recalls the sensual languidness of artists like SOHN and Tropics. However, these slight changes are still nestled amongst familiar features – ‘Lovers’, for instance, nods towards his original material drawing on frantic beats influenced by retro video games and subversive 80s pop.

For a relatively concise 47-minute record, Modern Worship seems to cover a lot of ground; there’s definitely a push towards creating a different type of mood but it’s a bit of a conservative effort.  Ultimately though, the power of this body of work (and Corney’s music in general) still stems from his ability to construct a dramatic sense of environment through sound. And why try to fix something that isn’t broken?

- Lauren Vevers

Modern Worship is available now on True Panther Sounds.

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