Hunter Complex : Airports and Ports

For my money Lars Meijer, aka Hunter Complex, is making some of the most exciting and innovative electronic music currently. As a composer he approaches his work not only a student of the electronic music world, but from the world of jazz, modern classical, pop music, and from a cinematic approach. His releases over the last three years have been a continuous sonic world as Open Sea and Dead Calm and Zero Degrees, both recorded at the same time, encapsulated a time and mood that felt epic in scope.

Prior to those albums Lars Meijer’s Hunter Complex releases had a more 80s alternative lean, yet still felt ambitious and hinted at the possibilities of what a widescreen, epic-in-scope Hunter Complex album could be.

Lars Meijer has returned with what may very well be his best album yet. Hunter Complex’ Airports and Ports takes the contemplative landscapes and neon buzz of Open Sea and Dead Calm and Zero Degrees and gives them sunlight and an optimistic lean. Meijer has made an album that touches on the vibes of Mark Isham, early 70s ECM releases, 80s production sheen and mixes them together to give us hues and shades unlike anything we’ve heard before.

When I first heard Hunter Complex I struggled to find the proper descriptives for the music. It felt as familiar as my own childhood; sounds emanated and emotions rose, painting memories as if from my own Midwest 80s adolescence. Yet at the same time, these records were almost alien. How does something sound like the sonic bedrock of my childhood, yet completely foreign and one-of-a-kind at the same time? I heard everything from Jan Hammer to Mike Post to George Michael to OMD to even Harold Faltermeyer. But when these certain sonic touchstones dissipated into the ether what was left was this singular voice: the voice of Hunter Complex.

Airports and Ports sounds like the record that has existed in Lars Meijer’s head and heart from the very beginning. He’s been mining his own musical knowledge and psyche on every album, slowly finding his way to it. There’s a triumphant sheen to album opener and title track “Airports and Ports” that is undeniable. Piano, synths, and an optimism and playfulness that captures equally 80s synth pop and early 20th century composers. It’s equal parts A-ha and George Gershwin. You can almost see the sun rising over some cityscape. “The Garden” builds with percussive hits and synth notes and opens the door to a more widescreen, collaborative sound. Meijer welcomed collaborators throughout this record, and with the addition of trumpets “The Garden” has the depth of Freddie Hubbard’s masterful ECM output of the early 70s. This is simply a tour-de-force of a song. “Across the Atlantic into Africa” is stunning in its wide-eyed splendor and almost retro-futuristic sound. The joy of creating music emanates from this track.

This album throughout just pulls from Meijer’s long list of inspirations and influences, while still creating something quite new and unique. There are darker, wilder moments as in “The Windburn is Terrible” and the propulsive “Why The Water’s Still At Night”, but even in the album’s darker compositions it’s less about some omniscient presence and more about discovery through exploration. “Dirty Snow” has the movement and emotional gravitas that is like reminiscing on a long gone summer day. Remembering in the cold, the warmth of the sun and the exuberance of a road trip years ago to nowhere in-particular.

Airports and Ports is a triumph in sonic joy. Hunter Complex has built this steely, mysterious island to make landfall upon and experience music in a very visceral, intellectual way. There’s so much to fall into and savor that you’ll be listening to this album for months and still find new corners to explore. Airports and Ports is a musical treasure with sonic riches.

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