I think one of the biggest musical discoveries for me in the last couple years has been Hunter Complex. The one-man music project of Lars Meijer has been a constant soundtrack in my head and ears since I first heard his Death Waltz Originals release Open Sea in late 2018/early 2019.
That album for me captured a certain kind of magic; a 1980s sound that so few can summon unless they were actually making music back then. Lars knows those sounds and vibes, as if they’re a part of his DNA. Open Sea locks into pop, ambient, film scores, TV shows, and atmospheric tones like nobody else. Everything from New Order to Jan Hammer to Mark Isham to Klaus Schulze, Meijer takes those influences and refines them into a musical world that’s quite unique and very much his own.
But what’s even more amazing is that Lars Meijer turned around and then released two more Hunter Complex records created during the same writing/recording process as Open Sea, turning that creative cycle into a trilogy of sorts. Open Sea was followed by Dead Calm and Zero Degrees and Rain In Europe, which when played together opens a vast sonic landscape and an epic listening experience. Those last two albums were released by Burning Witches Records, and go to create a stunning run of creativity and a sound world quite unlike anything else.
Recently Burning Witches Records released Dead Sea, an 80-minute set of live songs recorded between 2013 and 2017. The songs that make up these two 40-minute tracks would eventually go to create Hunter Complex’ masterful trilogy of Open Sea, Dead Calm and Zero Degrees, and Rain In Europe. That epic run of albums are explored here early in their creation, laid out in blistering live sets throughout The Netherlands. This is an intriguing exploration of the artist working out the art in real time. It’s a must for anyone that fell hard for Hunter Complex’ masterful music trilogy.
I feel like the best way to experience this live album is to simply put on some headphones and hit play. The music critic would only serve to muck up the vibe by breaking something like this down and internalizing something as visceral is a live album with intellectual anecdotes. Dead Sea consists of two tracks, each built from live performances and put together as individual listening experiences. “Dead Calm and Zero Degrees”, “June Gloom”, “Riptide”, and “Chase Manhatten” are there in live, raw form in track one. “We Fought For America”, “White Water’, “Street Value”, “Account of the Moon”, and “Television Sky” help to make up track two.
It’s amazing listening to these early live versions of songs that would make up the studio albums. Even in their early forms these songs were fully developed and come across rather, well, complete. It feels like a stunning DJ set with a mix of greatest hits, and they hadn’t even been released yet. That just goes to show how masterful Lars Meijer is, and how on point the world of Hunter Complex is.
If you’re still trying to find the time to dig into the world of Hunter Complex, now is that time. Lars Meijer is a true musical force to be reckoned with. From the Hunter Complex self-titled to the future classic Heat to various EPs and then to his masterful run Open Sea, Dead Calm and Zero Degrees, and Rain in Europe, these are all albums to be explored, savored, and to get lost in. Dead Sea is the definitive period at the end of this era. An exploration of where these records came from, as well as glimpse of where Hunter Complex is heading next.