You could be listening to one of two different artists if you’re giving our latest album of the week a spin. Well, kind of. One of Rochester’s primo electronica artists, Jeffery Hull, writes under a slew of various pseudonyms, his name contingent upon the style and mood under which he is writing. For the purpose of this article, which highlights his latest release The Beauty Within, I’ll be focusing on two: Hania Yiska, which explores his sonic creations with vocals layered on top, and Mad Hugs, which is the artist’s instrumental side of things.
It should come as no surprise that Hania Yiska and Mad Hugs are actually very similar; both projects are brainchildren of the same brain. Yet, where there are obvious and innate similarities, there are also small differences that mark an interesting variety in Hull’s electronic craft. While Yiska delves into vocal territory with a pseudo-experimental fervor similar to that of an Eraser-era Thom Yorke, Mad Hugs embraces a lyric-less poeticism, capturing moods and musings with an unabashed accuracy.
Album opener “Healing (MH),” a somber and contemplative piano track with a restless backbeat, is a perfect representation of that poeticism. The song is aptly titled, conjuring the pensive mental relentlessness that follows an event one may need to “bounce back” from. Many of the Mad Hugs tracks on The Beauty Within follow a similar interpretative approach. Listen to album highlights “No Money With My Lady” and “Sad Bird Blind Man” specifically for a well-balanced palette of instrumental moods.
The sprawling instrumental dynamicity that makes this record great luckily doesn’t take a back seat in the handful of Hania Yiska tracks on Beauty. Yiska track “Fear” capitalizes on cymbal rushes and flourishing piano chords under Hull’s subdued vocal duality, which is used well to complement the track’s overarching sound. Another particularly excellent Yiska moment lies in “Back Words Date,” with Hull tapping into his inner Yorke (nailing it), vocal melodies sailing over his signature piano beat offerings.
With a hearty 13 different tracks varying from impressive electronic sculptures to mood-laden sonic poems, The Beauty Within lives up to its title. Visit Hull’s bandcamp here for a pay-what-you-will download of all 13 tracks. And keep it up, Rochester—you’re on fire.