In her cover feature with Crack Magazine this spring, Helena Hauff discussed the "aesthetic" appeal of machines in her work as a producer. “People tend to think it’s more like robotics, they think it’s soulless because it doesn’t sound like it’s made by a human being. But I like that concept. It’s almost like the machine comes to life and becomes something with its own soul…They have a mind of their own, and I love that.”
This blurred relationship between musician and machine seems essential to Hauff's identity as an artist. Rejecting the overly slick production of computerised dance music for an authentic and raw analogue tone, Hauff's free-flowing sonic excursions feel at no point restricted or reigned in. It’s a quality which translates into her blisteringly dynamic and hi-octane DJ sets, making her not only one of the most exciting selectors to behold, but also a crucial presence in the global electronic music community.
Hauff's latest outing on Ninja Tune, Have You Been There, Have You Seen It, builds on this trademark style whilst also highlighting some softer shades in her palette. Nothing is What I Know is a piece of seductive electro, combining a stripped drum pattern with sultry synth pads and breathy vocals. Do You Really Like That? and Continuez Mon Enfant Vous Serez Traité En Conséquence are harder-edged, blending steely claps and shooting acid stabs into the EP's roughest textures. The latter track is particularly memorable, it's sunken brooding electro melody omitting a hypnotically darker pulse.
Closer and lead single Gift is lighter in comparison, adding warmer hues through its rippling bassline and gently bubbling synth arpeggios. Albeit one of Helena's tamer moments, the gorgeously rich and unpolished tonality of her hardware remains present. It's the end of a sophisticated release from a producer on the very top of her game, and a perfect example of musician and machine working in total synthesis.
Words: Georgia Tobin