Huerco S. – Plonk
Brian Leeds is someone who is unafraid to push the boundaries of their art, embracing evolution in a way that challenges the notion of artists being tied to genre. It’s the reason he created the Huerco S. moniker for which he is best known. For Leeds, that name would become synonymous with an ever evolving exploration into his sonic interests, experiments with style and form that are always grounded in honesty. It’s why Huerco S. has emerged at the forefront of multiple scenes, beginning with the lo-fi house boom of the 2010’s and arriving at 2016’s seminal For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have), an essential entry into a then burgeoning ambient resurgence. On his first album under the moniker in six years, Leeds again shifts Huerco S. further toward the margins of electronic music and away from whatever may be expected of him. Both picking up and departing from where For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) left off, Plonk broadens the Huerco S. palette into the realms of trap and drill, pulling off the astonishing feat of assimilating these into his ambient proclivities.
It’s unlike anything he’s ever made before, but is undeniably Leeds. Most telling of this is in his approach. No other producer thinks quite like he does, and on Plonk the application of his perspective to the patterns and structure of trap and drill produce interesting results. Over ten tracks, Plonk sees Leeds pull apart the mechanics of trap and drill, stretching its elements into increasingly vaporous tendrils that sometimes dare to dissipate into the ether and others become the ether itself. The project’s title makes direct reference to Leeds’s preoccupation; he is enamoured by the qualities of the “plonk” sound. As such, the sounds on Plonk also take shape as metallic, industrial pings and clangs. Plonk VI opens with chords as crystalline and mercurial as polished chrome, while the micro-drill hydraulics of Plonk IV bring to mind the breakneck mechanics of a chain reaction system. Tracks like Plonk V and VIII somehow take the beat driven and bass boosted form of trap and condenses it, pressurising it but without sacrificing the skeleton of its identity. This micro approach, or the distilling of these otherwise propulsive forms into ambience, makes for a distinctly spectral experience. Plonk sounds hauntingly eerie, uncanny in the same sense as deja vu, like experiencing something familiar for the first time all over again. This strangeness speaks towards Leeds’s greatest skill as producer and auteur; the ability to impart feeling and communicate emotion by way of his sound. It’s easy to understand the levity these explorations carry for him just by listening to them and considering how the pieces are crafted. By the time the record’s only instant of lyrics arrives on the Sir E.U featuring Plonk IX, we’ve developed an understanding of Leed’s alternative trap/drill universe that prepares us for the skeletal, droning, and slippery backdrop to Sir E.U’s rapping. The eleven minute finale of Plonk X is somewhat of a victory lap, blooming from washes of dreamstate ambience that recalls the sound of For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have), before fracturing these washes into bouncing, thrumming versions of the ‘plonk.’
Plonk is a gloriously realised departure and return for Huerco S., imbued with a strange sense of pathos that lingers after its engine cools down and its eponymous “plonks” have subsided. Simultaneously challenging the boundaries of ambient, trap, and drill, Leeds once again proves he is in a lane entirely his own.
See the music video for Plonk IV created by Jack Anderson below.
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