27 May 2022

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Daniel Hayles - Album Review: Other Futures

03 Mar 2022 // A review by Callum Wagstaff
Daniel Hayles is a piano and keyboard player, performing regularly in a variety of styles and settings. He also writes and arranges music for local and international artists, bands and shows.

His album, Other Futures, is constructed around improvised bursts of piano, with puffs of synth and percussion, pulsing bass, held together by sample-based beats born in the golden era of hip-hop.

Other Futures is an excellent accompaniment to a video game session and plays like "lo-fi hip-hop beats to study to" with the addition of a friendly ghost improvising over it. The room quality of the piano fits with the beats in a way that feels like you're a child playing in the doorway of your aunt's kitchen that uses plastic tassels instead of a door and she's got the turntable on in the other room but the incense smoke is starting to drift towards you.

The album is fit to accompany any puzzling, reading or coffee imbibing activity. In particular, songs like Puffs and Jabs, Neo Dela Piano and The Discount have a "sunny bay window seat" quality to them.

There's a couple of moments where the agreeable tone of the music forces you to look up from your book and take active notice; the title track Other Futures has a distinct limp that refuses to be relegated to background music. A couple of songs like Nyagashiru have bass note stabs that have a similar gait. The end of Herbaceous has a meaty synth outro that sounds like cancer being burned out of your retinas. Some songs have slight discolourations and odd quirks.

The Coder and Echo Dance Part 1 in particular both sound like an old, detuned TV would look, with hues sitting just outside the normal sphere in a conspicuous way. Like purple skin, yellow jumpsuits and cyan grass.

A standout track for me was Samba, which, given the warble and the context of the other tracks, felt like the "please stand by" music accompanying technical difficulties in a public access TV channel.

My favourite track was Choir Jam. It's pensive and anxious, but emotionally balanced. It felt like it moved me from one headspace to another over the course of the song. Choir Jam had a poise and presence that I really enjoyed and felt in my guts.

It's been a fun ride getting to know these songs. Hayles has his fingers in a lot of pies, so you can check out other stuff he's been involved with at danielhayles.com and dip your toe into his world.
Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Daniel Hayles

Daniel Hayles is a piano player, producer, Musical Director and teacher living in Wellington, New Zealand.

His latest album Other Futures was released March 4th of 2022.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Daniel Hayles


Other Futures
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Eldest of Five
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Eldest of Five Remixes
Year: 2019
Type: EP

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