Brian Leeds produces electronic music under the name Huerco S. His debut album for Software is titled Colonial Patterns. On Colonial Patterns, Leeds treats his Kansas City region as a universe worthy of its own electronic music.
To that end, Leeds deconstructs Midwestern techno and house tropes. The pieces are corrugated, rough, and decompositional. Working cheaply, Leeds conscientiously uses low-end software, synths and cassettes so as to subvert the gloss of so much urban dance music, giving tracks an impressionistic, emotive feel. The result is uniquely Midwestern: there is an expansiveness to each piece that suits the open space and the storied past of its inhabitants.
A native of Eastern Kansas, Brian Leeds first turned to music and visual art as a teenager. He attended the University of Kansas where he studied installation art and ceramics before leaving school to focus exclusively on sound design and music production. Recent releases include “No Jack,” off the EP for Wicked Bass, and the twenty-minute synth exploration “Untitled” which Leeds cut in collaboration with Exael for Software’s favorite Opal Tapes.
Colonial Patterns shares Jon Hassell’s hybridized experiments in percussive ambience, as well as William Basinski’s strobing melancholia. When tracks subtly veer into house/techno territories, they mirror the no frills dance mechanics of Midwest figureheads Ron Hardy, Omar S and Theo Parrish.
Non-musical influences are architect Paolo Soleri, known for the concept of “Arcology” (a fusion of architecture and ecology), as well as the ancient Native American mound city of Cahokia. The site of Cahokia in Illinois marks prior Native American societies whose existence was derailed by the colonialist revelation of the so-called New World.Colonial Patterns plays with the idea of the “New World” by ruralizing its historically urban music, and by stripping techno and house of glitzy fanfare.
Most exemplary of this sonic architecture is opener “Struck With Deer Lungs” and closer “Angel (Phase).” Both layer subtle rhythmic pulses with broader strokes of deep sustain, creating a pair of intro/outro signals that shape the album’s whole sequence and function as main supports to the album’s busier core. Bass heavy, Detroit techno leaning “‘linzhiid” and “Quiviria” deliver foreboding standouts with snappy economy.
Stripped of pop devices, discarding utopian delusions, Colonial Patterns is electronic music for the open prairie. Inherently inhabitable, yet strangely dispeopled, it’s a fitting universe for this otherworldly debut.