CD, D-Trash Records, 2006
Hansel hails from Boston, and has come a long way since their first full-length, “Respond_Violence” (2002). With a more focused and direct second album, “Lorentzian Lineshaper,” the irrepressible duo of Alan Flux and M.X. Lopex have sampled, programmed and vocalized their way into an underground breakbeat mash-up of rock music meets industrial attitude that spawns quivering little ‘cores all over the place. It may sound somewhat messy, but this is the intention – not to mention the price worth paying for afterbirth this tasty and chock-full of crunchy goodness. Hansel’s versatile sound, ranging from gritty lo-fi to clean and lustrous, is a diverse and distinctive grafting of hip-hop, illbient, digital hardcore and old school industrial. Most notably, Hansel recollects and channels that feel of ‘industrial’ music that was happening well before the genre became synonymous with EBM and futurepop.
The strong vocal aspect of “Lorentzian Lineshaper” (better than their murky debut, these well-executed lyrics are lucid and in the forefront) lends the album a decidedly hip-hop imprint, a genre from which Hansel draws much of their inspiration. In opposition to that aspect, however, are crashing breakbeats and digital hardcore stylings that draw comparisons most obviously with genre legends Atari Teenage Riot. Full of vehement passion and often paranoiac, frenzied or adrenalized, “Lorentzian Lineshaper” locates itself thematically on the boundaries of post-apocalyptic desperation, a first-hand witness to the paradoxical struggle of human survival in an immeasurable and empty universe. Hansel injects its robotic atheist vision with emotional content via the integration of classical instruments and orchestrations; strings feature prominently throughout the album – for instance the excellent, anxiety-filled “Mind Control” or the forlorn and vengeful “We are Important” – and “The Uncertainty Principle” even enlists a choir of angels to substantiate its bleak saga.
Instruments are often sharp and biting in their clarity, a superbly glitchcore treatment, while vocals – from spoken to screamed – rely on distortion to push Hansel’s existential agenda. From edgy drum & bass rhythms (“Waking the Ghost”) to dark fractured beats (title track), buzzing bass frequencies to unrelenting snares (“Pyslents”), and grinding guitars to skittish acid (“Zlotnik [Future Mix]”), the elements that define “Lorentzian Lineshaper” layer over one another seamlessly. In one hour of album length, Hansel packs in a solid seventeen tracks. Thus song durations (the longest at five and a half minutes, the shortest at just over two) are in keeping with their self-professed goal of a traditional ‘rock band’ format. Perhaps to drive home their unique twist on pop sensibilities, “Heart Breaker” is in fact a Pat Benetar cover. The combination of Hansel’s skeptical mindset and hybrid sound makes “Lorentzian Lineshaper” a formidable release, and its crowning touch must be the fantastic album artwork.
— Dutton Hauhart