If there are two things your man Klaus loves, it’s catatonically whiling away his free time falling into rabbit-hole after rabbit-hole on YouTube and lush, sweeping, dense ambient music. Though, rarely do the two obsessions intersect. Most of my YouTubin’ finds me enjoying videos by popular vloggers, while also engorging myself on British comedy new and old, road rage videos, Boston and Providence TV promos and commercials from the 80s, fail videos, stand-up comedy, movie trailers, and plain old comedy stuff. I generally don’t go to YouTube for music, unless it’s to scratch some weird nostalgic itch I might be having.
Which is why I find it so impossibly weird that YouTube’s recommendation algorithm decided to connect me with a musical act whose sonic creations would soon change my listening habits probably forever. For one fateful day back in August, YouTube decided to recommend to me an album by a Polish ambient collective called How To Disappear Completely. The album was Mer de Revs II, which was quietly released back on July 28. I don’t know what compelled me to click that video, but I did, and within the first two minutes my brain was saturated and I was utterly hooked.
How To Disappear Completely got their name from Doug Richmond’s 1985 book of the same name. At press time they have a whopping 24 album discography currently available over at their Bandcamp. Mer de Revs II, my introduction to their catalogue, is the staggering follow-up to their April 2017 release Mer de Revs and serves as a continuation of HTDC’s “experimental sleep music project.” It contains almost eighty-minutes of new music composed and recorded over a twelve month period (a song per month) between 2016-2017. According to their mission statement, they wanted to keep the same aesthetics as its predecessor; create audio soundscapes as simple as possible with the minimal amount of gear as possible. The result is a gorgeous, glacially moving work of art that is ethereal and peaceful. It takes its time getting from one beautiful sonic motif to the next and forces you to slow down and unplug that 140-character brain of yours. They bring to mind elements of Alva Noto, Ulrich Schnauss, Hammock, and Eluvium, yet they are much more delicate and lack any sort of percussion or discernible vocals (if there even are any vocals, they are manipulated and diluted to the point where they’re simply a small part of a much larger texture of sound). Any narrative the group intends is articulated only through gorgeous art direction and song titles; they leave it up to the listeners’ brain and mental state to interpret the music subjectively.
At this point, How to Disappear Completely have laid a massive foundation of sounds and the Mer de Revs albums are simply the tip of a gigantic and beautiful iceberg. You can stream both Mer de Revs and Mer de Revs II below, as well as see some alternative artwork for Mer de Revs II. I must reiterate that their Bandcamp is simply jam packed with stuff to stream, and with less than a thousand followers on Facebook, it’s clear that HTDC is a tragically unknown and true diamond in the rough.