[Reviewed by stark]
Never really watched nor read “The Moomins”. Had no idea what this strange name means, until I checked it on Google. Quite a peculiar name for a dark ambient project, no? It seems that hattifnatters are weird creatures, looking a bit like hot-dogs, with fingers and eyes, but no nose or mouth. Despite their simple construction and graphic design, there is something extremely mysterious and somewhat disturbing about them, even though the creatures themselves have a rather neutral attitude towards other entities. And you know what? This description fits Hattifnatter’s music perfectly.
This is the joined project of Artyom from Kryptogen Rundfunk and Evgenyi from Lunar Abyss Deus Organum. Two experienced musicians in the Russian post-industrial underground. I wonder if “Barometrizm” is some kind of half nostalgic, half terrifying return to their childhood nightmares, an attempt to observe them through the distance of years and an adult perspective. After all, I’ve heard from several people that “The Moomins” is a charming story, but some elements can be truly scary for kids. My girlfriend says that Marran was one of her traumas when she was a kid, so I’m willing to understand that all these stories could have made an impact in the youth mind.
Hattifnatters own a barometer. The album’s title is “Barometrizm”. I can see the link between the music and… humidity, so to speak. Thanks to the vast use of field recordings of natural (or elemental) origin at some moments the music gets a decent dose of mugginess, while at other times I feel like I’m walking through a damp cave. Something is constantly going on; the music in its largest part doesn’t have a typical drone background. The drones are present of course, but their position is equal to all the rumbles, cracks, hisses and murmurs. Check “Ieram”, which is like a neurotic call of Nature, or a swarm led by a queen bee that has gone insane.
I also have the impression that the album might have been recorded under the influence of, let’s say, specific consciousness-expanding substances. Like their pal Kshatriy on “Mushrooms and Kshatriy”. Because the surreal aura surrounding the music makes it difficult to classify in a clear way, without demur. Is it dark? Yeah, sure. Scary? Not necessarily. Experimental, but raising curiosity. Like a good story, where you have to know what will happen next. Cold, but warm, just like in that Sanctum song. There are moments when it reminds me of some works in Steve Roach’s albums, those most ambient ones, although his music is more melodic and approachable. But here, you have to build the world on your own, though it has to be said that the prefabricated musical product to encourage further production in your mind is of a high quality. As I mentioned above, my interpretation is the re-living of childhood nightmares as an adult. Not those typical ones, with the monster in the closet or under your bed, but those where you feel alone and abandoned, surrounded by those mute freaks, who perhaps aren’t even bad in nature – but you feel very anxious in this bizarre, humid territory when mom is not around.
“Barometrizm” was released by Zhelezobeton label on CD (333 copies) and tape (55 copies). There’s like a few hundred Hattifnaters on the cover, so if you want to look for a lightning bolt with them, check this album.