Here’s the latest from Kai Hugo, a self-titled album under his Palmbomen II moniker. He’s been making analog house and dusty old ambient-techno releases under various names and all with a cleaning-out-the-attic feel. Here on album where the strange gimmick is that every track is named after an X-Files bit-part character (I only know this from looking it up, I’m no boffin there, never watched the show) he has managed a sound that might have been conjured had Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92 been produced/reworked by Angelo Badalamenti.
You know Hugo has done his time on everything – all of the touchstones – from Martinez back to Carpenter and all points between. There’s Moroder and Boards of Canada, Aphex and Eno, but also the stuttering groove of clipped’n’blipped hip-hop and Eurotrash techno/disco (Samuel Aboah) and some wavy old synth lines (Carina Sayles) that feel like a bedsit Jan Hammer.
From segue creepers (the rather Boards of Canada-esque Teena Mulder) through longer, loping tropes of pilled-up happiness (Richard D. James meets Herbert on Cindy Savalas) to the prog-rock fantasies of the early 70s (Jesse O’Neill) and eventually resting with a 3am blunted-corners version of club-induced tinnitus-funk (Rebecca Waite) Hugo has managed that very fine Aphex Twin-like trick; he’s made an album that might have been sitting in a vault for 20 years. Or, of course, it was recorded just the other weekend, in a sedative-trip version of what others could call a frenzy.