It took me a few listens to even hear any hint of the New House track on this, HNC’s “remix” of “He Howls” off of that Tokyo band’s Burning Ship Fractal from earlier this year (remember that album?). The original version of “He Howls” is a plenty-good song, a squiggly highlight from an inconsistent album – on Fractal, “He Howls” is followed by three cloudy ambient songs, which end the LP on a weak note. HNC, though, only takes some of the vocals (I think…anything else is so subtle as to be unimportant) from the original, practically using this remix assignment as an excuse to showcase what is, for all purposes, an original song sampling New House.
Last year’s thrillingly paranoid “I Dream I Dead” signaled a sea change for HNC. She spent the prior decade making hyper-cute twee pop, sometimes to the point of toothache. Yet “Dead” showcased a radical departure, cutesy noises and kazoos discarded in favor of suffocating synths and existential dread. “He Howls (HNC’s Dreamin Mix)” highlights a new stylistic wrinkle for HNC – this track is pure sample-delica, more than one person I know saying “she sounds like The Avalanches” which is pretty high praise. She’s been slowly moving into this direction over the past year – I’m told that, at a recent live show, she samples Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around” and bled it into “I Dream I Dead” – and “He Howls” shows how glorious it can be. What makes this such a good track is how restless HNC gets – she never just sticks with one samples (the meaty part early on, where a sample dances around the New House vocals, could have been milked even longer and worked OK) but instead jumps all over the place, going from giddy girl-group samples to darker jaunts to who knows what else. Calling this a remix seems unfair. Listen below.