Kuma : Hounds and Echo In Conjunction

On experimental electronic artist Kuma’s latest release, the Vancouver-based sound wizard gives us something between the sparse spaces of Ry Cooder’s Paris, Texas and the droning brilliance of Mica Levi’s Under The Skin. Hounds and Echo In Conjunction is an alluring and hypnotic take on the imagined soundtrack.

According to record label Waxing Crescent Records’ press release, “Hounds And Echo In Conjunction is the soundtrack to an ambient movie that never existed. Conceived as a trip across the American southwest during the modern era, it’s an hours worth of tone tales for a very different tomorrow. Sundown vistas and wide open expanses are always touched by shadows.”

You definitely get the feel of some psychedelic road trip with wide open spaces, technicolor sunsets, and the existential dread of not knowing what’s ahead or not remembering what came before. Kuma works with both kodachrome sound colors and noir-ish drones that seem to emanate from shadowy unknowns. The dream-like is balanced perfectly with the hallucinogenic daze of a bad trip going 95 mph on Route 66 toward nothing good.

Tracks like “Governess of Floods”, title track “Hounds and Echo In Conjunction” and “Spooky Action At A Distance” lay out the sonic landscape perfectly. There’s an amorphous quality in these opening songs that feel as if you’re waking from some anesthesia-induced sleep.

The ominous “Two Artificial Gods” goes into almost Haxan Cloak territory with its indifferent drone, while “Embankment” sounds as if it was recorded in some great hall during an ancient ceremony. Closer “Vipers Are In The Grass” ends the journey as if falling endlessly through space and time, which I can say I’ve had a few road trips that felt like endless drives through space and time.

There’s a western feel here, locking into the kind of American Southwest that gave us Cormac McCarthy’s postmodern western noirs, as well as George Miller’s dystopian and post-apocalyptic Mad Max films. Those played like a Sergio Leone western, but with sheet metal muscle cars and mowhawked mutants instead of horses and bandoleros.

Once again Kuma has made an engaging and hypnotic listening experience. Hounds and Echo In Conjunction is a sonic deep dive into sounds of endless horizons, twisted highways, and existential dread.

Kuma’s ‘Hounds And Echo In Conjunction’ will be released 1/28/22 on Waxing Crescent Records. Buy it here.

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