Hlia Went – Planet

 Hlia Went – Planet

Hlia Went – Planet – Singles Review

Okay…let’s see what we’ve got here.  As I understand it, these three singles I have on my playlist today are not technically an EP – yet…but they are all housed underneath a larger concept that is currently known as Planet.  Intriguing!  You factor that information along with Hlia Went releasing music on the Versector site, which is “a space where artists from different backgrounds come together to realize their unique visions” and it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that you’ll never know what you’ll find until you push play.  Versector is “unconventional, unexpected, and unrestricted” according to my notes here.

So…yeah…at least with respect to that, it sounds like we’ve got a few things in common, more or less – we’re always on the lookout for something different here at sleepingbagstudios.

And Hlia Went definitely qualifies as something different.

As to whether or not this dude’s gonna secure the vote in the court of public opinion…the jury’s probably still out on that for the moment…time will tell.  As I listened to “Greed” at the beginning of this playlist I’ve got here, I could easily find pieces of this song that I enjoyed…but it’s almost difficult to assess this track as a whole, you know what I mean?  Like, the mysterious way that it begins – I’m lovin’ that.  The massively defined bass in the mix?  Dominant, but super cool too.  The animated sample at the beginning, I dig that as well, and I really love the synthetic details that Hlia adds in along the way throughout “Greed” – there’s a ton of stuff goin’ on in a track like this to keep you ears plenty engaged.  As for the half-Rap style of vocals he uses…I’m probably a little less sure of that than the rest of what I hear.  Truthfully, he’s rocking the mic at the start of “Greed” with a style that’s become fairly parodied at this point in music’s history, so there’s undeniable risk being taken in that regard.  I’m probably more of a fan of the way he wraps things up in the song’s finale as opposed to the verses/bars you hear at the start.  Lyrically, “Greed” has its moments, some hit, and some miss.  I can hear the accent in Hlia’s voice, and I think it’s fairly safe to assume that English is likely his second language – so make no mistake, I’ve got nothing but respect for how well he’s holding this together if that’s the case.  I assure you, if I was to write in any other language doing what I do, it’d be hot garbage and completely unreadable…so believe me when I say, I’ve got a whole lot of love for those out there with the mental capacity to take on a whole other language – that’s talent I simply just don’t have personally.  Where things get tricky in a song like “Greed” is that I’d readily criticize just about anyone out there (and have, many, many times) for using words that wouldn’t get used in our normal, everyday speech…because it’s moments like that that can end up snapping our suspension of disbelief, take us out of the song, and have us paying attention to a couple of words as opposed to seeing the bigger picture, you feel me?  So when I’m hearing things like “scathe” being used in a song like this…I don’t mind it…I can appreciate that it’s being used in a poetic sense that’s not exactly typical, but I’m willing to go with it because we find things to be “scathing” regularly in our speech in a variety of ways.  For me, it’s more about words like “yoke” that become a perplexing choice…when was the last time you actually heard someone use “yoke” in passing conversation?  The late 1600s?  And this is what I’m talking about…it’s moments like that that can take us out of the song, have us paying attention to a single word, and generally speaking, these are choices that are made to adhere to a rhyme-scheme rather than say what it is that we really want to say.  So…I mean…a scenario like this can easily be two things – I respect Hlia’s ability to communicate in multiple languages, but I also feel like there needs to be an understanding of the vernacular to go along with it.  I do applaud the use of “yoke” from a wordsmith’s perspective…don’t get me wrong, I’m a writer, and I appreciate the uniqueness of words too – but in that same breath, I know the effect that word selection can have on the potential impact of music, and how people tend to receive it when they’re listening.  It’s being used in the correct sense in what Hlia’s written, but it probably stands out for the wrong reasons.  Anyhow…that happens to people all the time…I ain’t sweatin’ it.  Beyond all that stuff, he’s got a highly interesting song with “Greed” that has a curiosity-inducing vibe that’ll pull people in to check it all out.

I figured that “Streets” would somewhat help clear up what Hlia is really all about, and I suppose it’s fair to say that it did.  Largely, it confirmed that Went likes a whole lot of things, and hasn’t really chosen to commit to any singular style of music or limit himself creatively like so many others out there tend to.  I’ve got love for that.  Ultimately, I have no illusions about variable styles of music being a tougher sell to the masses even despite the fact they tend to have a little something for everyone – it’s an aspect of versatility that works both for and against artists/bands in the long run I’ve found.  Sure there are folks like myself that will tune in for a fragment of a song they found somewhere in the murkiest corners of the internet, but for the most part, the masses generally need some kind of direction in order for them to understand what they wanna listen to, and having the kind of scattered diversity that Hlia has will likely send the majority of them running for the hills as opposed to regularly pushing play.  That’s just the objective reality of making music like this – it doesn’t mean that what Went is doing is wrong – there aren’t any rules when it comes to art, expression, or creativity…and ultimately, I expect that those out there rocking with the kind of multi-faceted sound that Hlia has are already well-familiar with what the reaction of the general public is gonna be.  He makes a confusing and confounding style of music, that’s the facts – and we can be sure that Went is doing that intentionally, and more aware of that than any of the rest of us could ever possibly be.  So be it, of course, but it’s one of those ‘live by the sword and die by the sword’ situations when it comes to the relationship between creative creators & their audience.  When it comes to “Streets,” I like that he’s got a wildly diverse structure at the core of his sound, style, and music…there are some seriously fantastic ideas in the mix and the way he’s designed this single.  Lyrically, it’s stronger and a more cohesive fit than what we just experienced in “Greed” – and as far as Hlia’s vocals are concerned, I dig that he flexes more personality in the way that he takes this track on.  Especially right there in his last verse, which arguably makes the most impact on us as a result of Went showing us more of a bold & gnarly moment right at the end of his vocals…it’s moves like that that tend to get noticed by listening ears.  Conceptually, clearly tracks like “Greed” and “Streets” represent a fairly justified and bleak perspective on what it’s like to live on this planet…you won’t find me disagreeing with him on much of what he points out or has to say.  I’ve always considered myself to be pretty neutral in regards to all that…I suppose I’d say I’m a realist when it comes right down to it – so while I might try to steer myself in a more positive direction these days, I can still see both sides of the coin.

Speaking of!  “Coin Toss” is the final track I’ve got here on my list.  What I do really appreciate about Went’s music is the consistency you’ll find within it, and considering the diverse array of ideas that go into each song, it’s almost strange to end up feeling like each track has such balance to it that it’d be hard to choose one over the other as your favorite.  Clearly this dude is comfortable doing things his own way, and after a mere three tracks as a sample measurement, you definitely get the sense that Hlia is always going to do things on his own terms.  Which is a great thing – that’s how artists have the most significant breakthroughs, by discovering their own uniqueness and going where their own creativity takes them.  You can’t achieve groundbreaking art simply by following the pack, so pass or fail, it’s always more admirable to attempt to blaze your own trail like Went is doing, in my opinion.  It’s possible that I might feel like “Coin Toss” has a slight advantage over the other two tracks…maybe.  I don’t know if I want to commit to that, because I really do feel like if you dig on one of Hlia’s tracks, you’re probably gonna have no problem digging them all.  I also think that “Coin Toss” has a bit more room to improve on a technical level in comparison to the others as well…like, I’d tell ya that Went’s got his vocals a little too buried inside the mix of this final track from my perspective.  And that’s coming from a guy that usually prefers things to be that way in the mix, because it tends to make the music sound BIGGER – but in this particular case, I don’t know that there’s quite enough going on in the sound surrounding his vocals to justify the mix being the way that it currently is.  With more balance between its two main parts, music and vocals, chances are “Coin Toss” will go on to be the most revered track of the three, because the balance of the idea itself is much more accessible than the other two overall.  Now that I’ve written that, I’m realizing that there are probably individual moments in both “Greed” & “Streets” that would likely reveal more significantly memorable highlights and momentary spots along the way that I would personally be more enthusiastic about in a creative/artistic sense…but if we’re talking about the way folks generally receive the music they’re listening to, “Coin Toss” has the potential for the highest degree of accessibility.  It still needs a better mix than it currently has, but I’m confident that Hlia can get it to where it should be based on everything else I heard in the more lively sound of the singles before.

Make sure to find out more about Hlia Went and the rest of the roster of artists featured on Versector by checking out the page at Bandcamp here:  https://versector.bandcamp.com

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