Slated to drop June 22, Design Me is the title of the forthcoming EP from Husks. Husks, the musical progeny of Brooklyn producer Connor Small, melds experimental pop and hip-hop with the chilling electronic soundscapes associated with horror movies.
Growing up on Philadelphia, Small learned multiple instruments prior to completing his high school studies. By the age of 15, he was writing his own songs and playing in local bands. After college, he and Andrew Kilman started an electro-soul band called Youth Culture. Preferring to remain in the background, Small shaped their music to complement Kilman’s vocals. In July 2016, Youth Culture’s debut EP, Dreams To Make You Shiver, appeared.
Never satisfied, Small kept pushing the boundaries of his sound, fusing the remote aural nuances of ambient horror with electronic rhythms and progressive, textured patterns. The result of Small’s constant sonic exploration is Design Me, with Small moving out of the shadows into the foreground and providing the lead vocals.
Small explains his fascination with ambient horror, saying, “I realized that they affected me so much because those tones and atmospheres really hit to the core of what I was feeling in a visceral, physical way. I was scared, lonely, sad – and all of these sounds made me feel less so. So I began to seek out music that incorporated the “horror” aspect of music. I couldn’t find much that was in keeping with the modern, electronic/ambient sounds so I began making it for myself.”
In the Poetics, Aristotle referred to this emotional purging as “catharsis,” purging the emotions by means of fully experiencing them.
In a 2015 interview, David Byrne expounded on the cathartic properties of music, saying, “Surely most of us have a some point, in sports, music or some other group activity, found ourselves lost, subsumed in the group, in the team or larger community – and we have experienced how wonderful that can be. Well, some kinds of music are a machine for making that happen- and happen reliably.”
Design Me comprises five tracks co-written by Small and Becca Krueger. Two of the tracks – “Design Me” and “Corrode” – are currently available for public consumption via SoundCloud. The other three will be accessible June 22, when the EP drops.
Permeated by slow trap rhythms infused with industrial-lite pulsations, the tracks are steeped in a dark moodiness that, rather than engendering sadness, gloominess, and melancholy, is oddly calming, almost soothing. The lulling effect radiates from the oozing dream pop flow of the music. Essentially, to me, the music is a hybrid mish-mash of Depeche Mode, Sigur Ros, and FKA Twigs.
“Shapeshifter” opens with umbral surfacing synths, followed by a brittle snare roll that introduces glowering, seething harmonics. Small’s high tenor drifts overhead like sonic embers, subtle yet full of suppressed energy. “Reach” exudes a palpable, elegant flavor rife with eerily intractable colors.
“Corrode” rides heavy, torpid hues of streaming, groaning synths, like a complex of titanic ruins obscured by dense mist. Small’s voice, as well as the harmonies, takes on a chanting cadence pregnant with mysterious symbolism. The title track combines ascetic dream pop with a potent trap beat and mechanical percussive accents.
“If I Had A Heart” reflects somber intensity adrift on subtle undulating waves of sound. The tocking cadence combined with the streaming pale glow of the synths gives the music a twofold velocity, like a rock in the middle of a gushing creek. This is my favorite song on the album because of its fugitive tendency.
Design Me is excellent. There’s an eerie, mythic structure to the music akin to an implacable personal force, a kind of inborn, arcane construction at once elusive and devious, affable and intent.