20 Jul 2024
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Havening - Double Album Review: Wavelengths of Light

26 May 2024 // A review by Steve Shyu

Big things are happening for Bonnie O'Donnell. Under her alias of Havening, she’s been eagerly crafting bucketloads of electronic music, releasing them all as not one, but two albums. The Wellingtonian producer, writer and musician has recently presented to the world her two-disc Wavelengths of Light, with several tracks already gaining admiration from international playlists as well as local radio frequencies.

Thus, we dove headlong into this release with minds and ears open.

The album leads the way with edge, which boasts chattering effects, robotic twitches and distorted vocal samples, and listeners will become immediately aware this is no ordinary electronic music. 6 wands carries on with this experimental aesthetic, this time with steadier rhythms, and atmospheric layers of synth lines.

Then there is the warped trip-hop outing that is mungus tungus, with frantic garage beats, distorted cartoon sound samples, dizzying synthesised notes, all swirled in a frenzied tornado of energy. Definitely one to put on while pre-loading; not so much if one is looking to chill out.

auralite was one to catch my attention and hold it for its three-minute journey. It took my mind into a subterranean world where crevasses boom, the air reverberates, stalactites drip, and the unfamiliar morph into uncomfortably familiar entities. I recommend not listening to this track alone in a dark room. Or do, if you wish to experience some mental perturbance.

There are delightful plays on octaves in little marmoset, plus some super-oily synths teasing its way in and out of the track, as whirling notes dance back and forth. And in utilising synths, some playful imitations of musical instruments appeared to be at play on tracks like night queen, as off-tempo plucked-string effects dance, backed by an effervescent chorus of synths. Then, in unexplainable ways, there are certain synth effects that evoke nostalgia, like the keyboards on corsair bay, all the myriad of retro sounds ringing strong, reminding one of old-school video games as well as lazy afternoons in the childhood living room.

Rounding off the extensive nineteen-track experience is the expansive mneme moon, a warm, aural journey laden with beckoning synth calls, and slow, radiant pulses deep in the mix. Not a bad way to conclude a listening experience.

A strong case could be made for using these tracks as soundtrack to a documentary or science fiction film. Expansive echoes bring to mind the vastness of deep space; the constantly twinkling synths remind one of deep, gargantuan ice caves, where even the smallest sounds echo endlessly. Indeed, the synthetic ambiences across almost every track sounds futuristic and otherworldly, to have a visual aspect to match makes an awful lot of sense.

Majority of melodies found on Wavelengths of Light tend to be convoluted and freeform, composed unconventionally. And as a whole, this double album is an impressive exploration of the countless ways synthesisers could be made to sound. Atmospheric. Suspense. Energised. Soothing. Unsettled. And psychedelic, of course. Wavelengths of Light has it all.

In the musical realms of the unorthodox and Avant Garde, this deserves a place in its echelons. Havening took an uncompromising stance and created a deeply experimental body of work.

Unlike me, those who know their synthesisers well will likely find this record fascinating. From my limited understanding of this corner of the musical world, there is undoubtedly a large amount of craftsmanship that has gone into it but is lost entirely on me. And this is perhaps where Wavelengths of Light shows its weakness. For the layman, majority of this double-feature will largely go under-appreciated. That said, if the opportunity arose to pair this with visual presentations, many tracks here have great potential.

Check it out for yourself via Spotify, Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.

 

About Havening

Hoping to spread a little magic and wonder through the cosmic airways, Bonnie O'Donnell creates experimental ambient EDM from her home studio on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand. Her debut double album Wavelengths of Light premiered 5 May 2024.




Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Havening

Releases

Wavelengths of Light Vol. 1
Year: 2024
Type: Album
Wavelengths of Light Vol. 2
Year: 2024
Type: Album

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