Hummingbird: Our Fearful Symmetry Remixes

A sense of mystery pervades the Hummingbird project, whether the mystery in question refers to the composer or to the latest work associated with him/her. The identity of this apparently well-known creator is not known, first of all, and secondly, it's unclear whether the remix version of the 2010 Fluid Audio release Our Fearful Symmetry is a remix album in the conventional sense, whereby other artists provide re-interpretations of the original, or whether the pieces are re-workings by Hummingbird that offer variations on the initial album's contents. Though the latter appears to be the case, it's a moot point ultimately: the remix set, issued on the new Fluid Audio sub-label Facture, holds up perfectly well regardless of any extra-musical considerations, and it also gives a greater number of listeners a chance to hear Hummingbird's music, considering that the original album was made available in a limited 100-copy run that disappeared almost instantly. Whether heard in the original or revisited form, the producer's electroacoustic mood pieces feature a ravishing array of textural detail that can leave the listener dizzy.

The album's atmospheric settings pull the listener into an ethereal and immersive sound world, a cloistered ambient space where natural elements intertwine and musical fragments, like the soft murmur of a violin or tinkle of a piano, surface. In the opening “Uncertainty in Copenhagen (Nowhere To Turn Mix),” for example, strings eventually push their way to the forefront through dense layers of grime and soot, while “Seeds of Deception (This Life Mix)” sounds like a gleaming, piano-laced drone punctuated by the magnified chattering of an insect colony. Hummingbird initially strips the material down to its bare bones in “The Little Green Box (Landscape Mix)” when a lone cello emotes plaintively until the background fills in with resplendent colour. During “Eemina (Unpopular Culture Mix),” field recordings and processed textures form reverberant fields against which the tentative melodies of acoustic instruments resound. At times the track titles exemplifiy the character of the tracks' content: silver slivers glisten against a sputtering background of nocturnal fog during “Florian (Not In My Background Mix),” for instance, and “Starfish Seastar (The Water Table)” certainly exudes an aquatic character of sorts too. A setting of ambient enchantment, “The Garden of Secrets (Groups, Rings, Fields Mix)” could be regarded as representative of the project in general, though the more familiar title alluded to, A Garden of Earthly Delights, would be arguably an even better distillation of the album's character and the impression it leaves on the listener.

January 2011