How do you juggle? Its just a matter of throwing and catching, right? Maybe so if you boiled it down too its constituent parts but when you put it into motion its complexity rapidly escalates. Evading the normal prescience of hand and eye becoming less about movement and more about magic. But you’ve seen someone do it and they made it look easy. So anyone can do it. Right?
The subtleties and complexities of any Art form can be masked by the ease with which it is presented. Music for example can seem deliriously simple when a group of talented people get together with focus and enough drive to make their dream happen.
Hieroglyph are one such collective. Deceptive in the simplicity with which they present their material, their songs demand repeated listening. The songs fizz from the speakers like some darkly delicious forbidden treat. Appealing to the senses in a mysterious and burrowing manner, the grooves they employ shift from forward forcing Tech; to a more unctuous and tactile progressive approach.
The guitar is, by turns staccato and ethereal. Morphing from a hardened Techish modality to a chiming resonant pulse. There are several exciting riffs tucked away within this EP, most memorably on the compelling In The Air, but the mix doesn’t propel the guitars to a forced and unnatural prominence. Instead it allows the music to fuse together as a legitimate and intuitive unit; each element emphasising the positive qualities of the others. Guitar playing as subtle and textured as this is always a pleasure to engage with and indulge in.
The drumming is diverse and pleasingly devoid of cliché. Powerful and rugged when it needs to be, but with a guile and consideration to its surroundings that is mature and egoless. Utilising both a decimal rigidity and a cardiac feel for timing to impel the songs forward with punch and dexterity.
Connecting these exuberant elements is the low slung bass of Helen Tytherleigh. Her playing is reminiscent of Fieldy from Korn, without that gentleman’s predilection for p-funk interludes. Her style is more coiling and caressing than slapping and picking. She seems to slot directly under the groove and supports like well assembled scaffolding; resolutely but with unobtrusive skill.
The vocal duties are shared between the diverse pairing of Mark Howes and Valentina Reptile, who enmesh and harmonise their voices despite being polar opposite in style and approach.
The male part being base and animalistic. Thrusting towards the listener in a surge of unthinking impulse. Mr Howes barks and rasps his lines; sometimes commanding and sometimes desperate, much like a caldera on the brink of eruption.
Ms Reptiles response to this precipitous danger is considered and soulful. Unique of tone and strong of phrase, her voice glides over the waves of sinuous rhythm with an adroit and tremulous grace. Dynamic in both technique, tone and volume, her voice is a distinctive and winning trump for Hieroglyphs to have within their deck.
It is tough to impart in words the facile nature of their idiosyncratic vocal partnership. But like the best impressionist art and peering into rock pools; the more I looked, the more I found.
Though not perfect, this is an very intriguing, persuasive debut. Exemplifying elements from the world of Tech Metal and beyond, yet always distinctive in its composite appeal, Hieroglyphs should be justly proud of what they have achieved.
They blend dark, fevered storytelling with a lightness of touch that allows the listener free reign to engage either cerebrally or physically with the music. Not an easy feat. But yet one that seems to come naturally for this group.
How do you juggle? Its just a matter of throwing and catching, right? You’ve seen someone do it and they made it look easy. So anyone can do it. Right?
Not Anyone, but Hieroglyph can.
– John Whitmore