“… an aggressive inversion of euphoric sound […] fractured and beaten into submission…”

Release Notes

Label: 3six Recordings
Released: April 12th, 2024

It seems that I often begin my full-feature album reviews with an introduction that covers my personal musical journey with the artist. So here we go, folks. Dennis Huddleston‘s official debut, Hypersona, appeared on the scene in 2009. I privately listened to it in the background, but it wasn’t until his monumental Lithea, three years later, in 2012, that the whole community started to notice. What is important to note with the above is that this UK-based composer never signed to any label [until that point] – and that’s what makes it harder to break through. A testament to his dedication and, most importantly, the quality of sound is what got 36 recognised as one of the leading and prolific artists creating atmospheric, cinematic and ambient music in the modern ambient scene. In the last decade, his albums [which include fantastic collaborations] were released on a number of essential labels, including A Strangely Isolated PlacePast Inside The Present, and, of course, his very own, 3six Recordings.

I’ve published two in-depth interviews with Huddleston back then, which you can peruse at your leisure here, and suffice it to say that I have been a loyal follower and fan from then on. I fell in love with his particular tint of sonic reveries, so when Dennis announced his latest album, incorporating the phrase “trance anthem” yet claiming that it wasn’t a trance album and “probably the darkest album I have ever made“, I honestly did not believe him. I almost filed the entire thing somewhere along his latest journeys, like Ablyss, Cold Ecstasy and Colours In The Dark. And… damn… was I wrong to doubt its new direction!

Indeed, those “trance-inspired” synth pads, stabs, and leads are all on here, but they do not rise to their epic dance progressions, which would have triggered memories of growing up. Instead, they dive into a dark abyss where I am hiding, distorted, twisted, and inevitably aged. No longer is this music celebrating nights of worry-free festivities, but rather offering companionship to those who ultimately face the truth – a bit of existentialism, anxiety, and slight depression, when all those things that used to make you happy are no more. When mental scars become the roadmap of the future, and now you navigate each day anticipating woe. This album hits exactly in those places, and somehow, it is comforting to know that we are all in *this* together, a generation of all broken promises and sunken dreams.

Here’s what Dennis wrote for me to share here:

I’ve been making music as 36 for over 15 years now. During this time, I think I’ve covered a large gamut of emotion in my music, but it’s always remained rooted in that fascinating interstice between melancholy and optimism. With this album, the latter is almost defeated. With the world as it is right now, lush chords and pretty melodies just didn’t feel right any more. There’s this anxiety in the air, which is so thick, we’re practically suffocating. During dark times, you can’t help but be nostalgic for the past. I wanted to write an album which turned the mid/late 90s hyper-optimism on its head, tearing those roaring, euphoric synths apart, and viewing it through a modern lens. Even the title is a bit of a piss take, really. It’s by far the most aggressive 36 album I’ve made, but if you look deep enough, you’ll still see some embers of hope in there. Everything is fucked right now, but that doesn’t mean we should go quietly into the night.

So, yes, I have admitted in the past that I prefer dark music. There is a beauty in this sound that doesn’t need to be pretentious with a smile. It’s just exactly how it is and you can truly glimpse into the soul of the composer. And hopefully, within, you’ll find a little something that looks back in recognition. I find that “something” to be perfectly captured on this release, perhaps my favourite to date from Dennis (although I often listen to Lithea in the night). Pick this up on a physical 6-panel digipack directly from his Bandcamp, or maybe a 6-CD bundle or perhaps even an entire digital discography of 47 (!) releases for an incredible 70% discount. Highly recommended, especially if you appreciate the sound landing somewhere between Ben Chatwin, Ital Tek and Tim Hecker.