17 Jun 2024

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Steven Hue - EP Review: Assembly

15 Feb 2022 // A review by JamieDenton

At the start of December, I had the opportunity to review the double single Brainstare / Manatorquim by Tasmanian-based ex-pat Kiwi, Steven Hue. At that time, I noted that another three songs would be following shortly, and that, based on the strength of these original two, I was eagerly anticipating what this next batch would have in store. Now that they are here, my prediction was right – I am excitedly eager to hear what these three tracks entail.

Former vocalist and co-writer for Full Code, and sound-designer for art installations, short films, and video games, Steven Hue’s new EP entitled Assembly sees him diving deeper into the electronic and ambient, shedding more of his ‘live/rock’ past. It is fascinating to watch an artist’s experimentation in this way, but more importantly Steven Hue has created something that retains its overall listenability and enjoyment.

First track, Night Club Bar, retains a feel and sound that is closer to traditional electronica than ambient, but as such provides a classy dub/techno link between his previous work and the later tracks on this EP. This is a song that somehow feels both familiar and fresh at the same time, the choppy, almost quirky beats, the deep, resonant bass, and masterfully placed layering lends this track to feel like something that would be heard in a late night/early morning, smoky bar or on a futuristic sci-fi movie soundtrack. The vocal samples are gorgeous, perfectly positioned in the mix to be simultaneously haunting, beautiful, and to capture a sense of mysteriousness.

Second track, Guadyte’s Lair, is where we begin to see Steven Hue’s confident and competent move into atmospheric/ambient music. This type of music is best enjoyed with the lights off – and when you allow the music to be a storyteller, richly describing the scene to you. At the outset, I must admit to not knowing what or who Guadyte is, so the story that developed in my head may be subjectively different than that Steven designed, but that’s the beauty of such music: it can speak to different people in different ways and all of them are valid and true. My interpretation of this track — which may differ from the artist’s conception of the track — is that it represents and depicts a journey through three distinct soundscapes. The first of these spaces, the one in which we find ourselves at the opening of the track, is a vast, cavernous environment. Steven Hue uses a lot of higher register notes, cleverly juxtaposed with rumbling near-droning bass and a gentle reverb-like effect, to create a sense of cold – like entering the mouth of a sublimely large underground cave. As we move into the second phase of this piece (at approximately 1 minute 35 seconds), we seem to enter the lair proper. We are met with a series of competing, and contrasting sounds including some that seem to call from futuristic spaces. The third space (at approximately 2 minutes 45 onwards) intrigues me. Here Steven Hue reaches a point of full droning of single sounds. It is an incredibly minimalist and powerful moment to finish the track, and a sound that I, personally, am a big fan of. I love hearing those slight note fluctuations that reveal the imperfection of music. If anything, I would have liked to see this track expanded further, exploring these spaces in more detail and more hints at the world that Steven was exposing for us, but that’s the sign of some great writing. It’ll keep me coming back to try and find those hints in what has been provided.

Third, and final, track Typhoon somehow nestles nicely in a midspot stylistically between Night Club Bar and Guadyte’s Lair. Starting with a series of droning synth layers, Typhoon teases at being another ambient soundscape similar to Guadyte’s Lair before shattering its own mold by introducing the vocals and dub-esque bass swells. Of the three tracks, this one probably sits the most naturally with the rest of Steven Hue’s work that I have reviewed, but that is not to say that it isn’t a very strong track. It is a great addition to that strong body of work. The vocals and glitchy beat add that signature sound back into the EP, and the track’s placement at the end of the EP is intriguing as though bringing us back out of a journey and back to home.

All in all, another very strong release by Steven Hue. I really like the new directions that he is pushing in, while still retaining what it is that makes his signature sound.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Steven Hue

Steven Hue is most at home in the body of the mind. Hue creates atmospheric soundscapes with a rich blend of electronic sounds and acoustic instrumentation. His evocative vocals stir memories from beyond the edge of conscious reason.

Tapping a rich vein of influences with the tenacity of a musical junkie, Hue fuses ambient soundscapes, experimental rock, and electronica with seamless and satisfying originality.

Hailing from Aotearoa, Hue studied at the Nelson School of Music and is currently based in Tasmania. As vocalist and co-writer for experimental Kiwi band Full Code, Hue experienced the rush of performing live for a highly appreciative fan base. Full Code released a self titled EP in 2009, and full-length album, Telescapes in 2014.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Steven Hue


Year: 2021
Type: EP

Other Reviews By JamieDenton

EP Review: SD-2100 vs The World
05 Sep 2023 // by JamieDenton
Hailing from Kirikiriroa (Hamilton), the multi-talented artist Sam Densem has showcased his versatility across a spectrum of musical genres and styles. Sam's approach to his craft involves crafting distinct packages of music, each with its own unique flavour and character.
Lester - EP Review: Lost and Found
28 Aug 2023 // by JamieDenton
Tamaki Makaurau / Auckland-based MC Lester (ex-Round Buddha) is not a new name within Aotearoa New Zealand’s independent music scene. Indeed, Lester has carved a distinct presence for himself since his early releases in 2017.
Sonic Space Lab - Album Review: Cycles
20 Jul 2022 // by JamieDenton
Sonic Space Lab is the musical pseudonym of Dunedin-based, Venezuelan composer and sound engineer Luis Rodriguez, who some may know from his guitar work in Dunedin’s Tomahawk Radio. Having spent more than 20 years writing music for television, film, and advertising and collaborating with countless musicians in both musician and producer roles, Luiz Rodriguez turned his hand to Sonic Space Lab (also the name of his studio) in the mid-late 2010’s.
Arrays - Single Review: Glass Traps
06 Jun 2022 // by JamieDenton
Auckland-based rock/metal act Arrays is the brainchild and ‘creative sandbox’ of musician/producer JP Carroll (ex-Armed in Advance, and currently also with Swerve City). Having known JP for a number of years, and having followed his career through Stitches, which became Armed in Advance, and then into Arrays and later Swerve City, he has consistently remained a strong creative force, a passionate and prolific producer and performer of music, and possibly kiwi-music’s most genuine, nicest, and most down to earth personalities (albeit one that is loaded with a plethora of terrible puns that he will unleash at any and all opportune moments).
Speech Act Theory - Single/Video Review: Old Versus New
25 Feb 2022 // by JamieDenton
Initially conceived of as purely a studio project to fuse electronica with live drums and other instruments, Auckland-based alternative/electronica Speech Act Theory is the brainchild of producer/musician Pete Hickman alongside drummer Ben Bradford. With the project kicking off in the latter end of 2019 — which is probably not the greatest timing, with all the upcoming turmoil and disruption to live music etc.
Floor Five - EP Review: The Garden
28 Jan 2022 // by JamieDenton
Indie-pop/rock band Floor Five are relative new-comers on the Kiwi music scene. Following up a couple of previous singles (2020’s Overthinking and 2021’s Strawberry Wine), the Wellington based four-piece’s partially crowd-funded EP The Garden was released just as the country returned to the red light setting of the Covid protection framework.
Steven Hue - Double Single Review: Brainstare / Mantorquim
06 Dec 2021 // by JamieDenton
Ex-pat Kiwi now based in Tasmania, Steven Hue may be familiar to many through his previous work as former vocalist and co-writer for popular experimental band Full Code, his stint studying at the Nelson School of Music, or his commission work which has seen him produce work for art installations, short files, and video games. Turning his hand to solo electronic music, Steven has just released a double single of two new tracks: Brainstare and Manatorquim.
Stray Theories - Album Review: This Light
07 Oct 2021 // by JamieDenton
Based in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australian musician/composer Micah Templeton-Wolfe has a long, successful history with crafting works that explore rich, lush melodies within vast ambient, cinematic soundscapes. While some of his works have become the soundtracks to independent short films, television and radio commercials, multimedia projects, art installations, and specifically commissioned sound design or compositional pieces, he has also maintained an interest in releasing material as a musical artist.
View All Articles By JamieDenton

NZ Top 10 Singles

    Tommy Richman
    Sabrina Carpenter
    Billie Eilish
    Sabrina Carpenter
    Post Malone feat. Morgan Wallen
    Kendrick Lamar
    Billie Eilish
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem