Hamish Thomson (aka The Hermit) had to have produced Flying Out of
Solitude with a certain sense of humor, given his juxtaposition
of title and moniker, and that sense of humor is threaded through the song
titles and sounds he presents to the listener. The ambient sound Thomson
creates leaves you feeling as if you've been suspended in a high saline solution... warm
and without gravity, easily able let the jokes sink in and daydream.
All of the songs, in fact, create instant images; like music for an
opera, when a song is played, the scene is set.
"Driving in Solitude"'s beat is happy but unchanging, the synth
key high and echoey. It suggests the counting of tiles in a long
underwater highway tunnel, or roadstops on a state turnpike.
Percussion and synth dominate, but special effects are used throughout
the album. "Ohio" features the recorded sound of running trains, and
ends with a train whistling in the distance; the drumbeats mimic the
noise of a locomotive engine. Anyone who has spent time in Ohio will
become nostalgic listening to this sound; with CSX headquartered in
Cincy for so long, and a real lack of trees out by Toledo to insulate
sound, train engines and whistles permeate the landscape so thoroughly
that their sound is inseparable from the land's geography. In "Second
Wave", a toaster oven and a vintage air organ are used to create
crashing sounds that resemble the second coming. The effects
pedal used in "Swallow the Stars" allows the Hermit to create sounds
like shooting stars and, well, swallows. Some of the music was created
live, with each sound played by a real musician, which is a more
intellectual concept for this genre; other tunes are studio-created loops
of found sound and synth-created noise. This music is intelligent,
playful, and always has a great beat.
While The Hermit experiments and has fun with the music he's
creating, he never creates unlistenable art for art's sake -- every
song has a melody. Impenetrable intellectual posturing is more of a cruel
musical joke at the expense of cash customers, and all too common
among his peers, which makes The Hermit's music that much more enjoyable. None
of this stuff is really suitable for dancing, but that's not so rare
for IDM; the "dance" in that acronym is usually a misnomer. After
listening to half of the Nutone catalog, I can confidently say that almost
anything you buy from them will be a happy purchase. Flying Out of
Solitude is no exception.