As soon as I heard Terence Hannum’s latest opus Via Negativa, I knew I was going to write about it in some form. Hannum is perhaps best known as one of Locrian’s founding members, but his solo work has continually stood out to my ears. Via Negativa is his strongest work yet, however, and it’s amorphous tendencies call for repeated listens to finally crack.
The word ‘subtraction’ is mentioned a lot in the press release for Via Negativa and it’s apt. Nothing here is superfluous. Hannum cuts these pieces down to their cores, only exorcising the most necessary elements and focusing on those. It leaves rich, cathartic music that engages the listener on many different levels.
This is where it paris with Bell’s Two Hearted Ale in that this beer is the near-perfect distillation of a particular process or approach. There’s a billion IPAs out there these days (just like there’s a billion experimental ambient records), but what Bell’s does is find the root of what makes a great IPA and keeps the focus there. Two Hearted is great because it doesn’t care about the frills. Via Negativa is the same. Hannum harnesses a bevy of discordant yet enchanting tones and sculpts them into haunting and transitive pieces of music. There’s so much here to digest and pull apart, but in the end it’s about a singular meditative moment translated into aural form and Hannum is at his peak. Via Negativa is one of the year’s best and Two Hearted is, of course, an all-timer. Get them both, find your moment.
Via Negativa is out on now on (the amazing & criminally underrated – seriously one of the best labels in the world) Utech Records, vinyl & digital.