Hidden Number – Human_Error Album Review

There’s been a swell of dark loud psych-prog coming out these days, which I for one couldn’t be happier about. In the last six months or so, I’ve found myself completely immersed in new discs by Lesbian, Titan, the Psychic Paramount, Intronaut, and now, Hidden Number. It’s not like I was going out searching for a ton of dark loud-leaning psych prog/prog metal, but sometimes you just fall into these kind of pursuits.

I have a kind of obsessive compulsive relationship to this kind of music as it instantly strikes a chord in me by opening a box of countless mesmerizing auditory trinkets that I’m promptly compelled to get to the bottom of sooner rather than later. I think I listened to this about five times in a row upon first receiving it, and haven’t honestly gone very long without connecting back with since. There are still more truths to be unearthed.

These guys have been playing around Seattle for years now, and this is their second full-length which finds them finally coming into their own by embracing their core urges to throw caution to the wind and brazenly prog the fuck out. Whereas the band’s prior work was more chaotic in its succinct genre hopping, drawing obvious comparisons to bands like Secret Chiefs 3 and Mr. Bungle, here they craftily carve out more of their own niche with eerie yet surpisingly melod-epic song structures and über complex instrumentation. And unlike a ton of fellow bands who mine past prog conventions like early Genesis riffitude or stock metal instrumentation, Hidden Number toss a lot of different knives into the bag as far as influences go. There’s a bunch of surf rock goodness, sputtering techno assaults, Middle Eastern meditational flourishes, and most welcomingly, some of the choicest theremin soloing to date — none of which seems particularly contrived or out of place. The between-song ambient interludes extend a new dimension of lysergic illumination to the band’s repertoire as well, conjoining the tunage and making it that much space-tastier. As previously established, what’s most astonishing about the whole endeavor is how the hooks manage to actually reach through the sprawling clusterfuck and stick with you after the disc ends.

Dean Swanson, who writes a lot of the music here, also dabbles in the occult, so it’d be rather irresponsible of me to not at least mention the possibility that the talents displayed on Human_Error might have actually arisen from demonic bonding rituals with unspeakable beings from a realm beyond time. It’s eminently possible. Matters such as these are difficult to ascertain with any kind of certainty — but I can tell you that if you were planning on buying at least one occult-themed, excessively eclectic psych prog record this year, I’d go with this one.

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