Change leads to transformation, and then: evolution. It is usually a slow process, at least from a human perspective. Listening to Hanslik & Moniz Experiment’s new album Evolution though, time seems to speed up and we get a unique glimpse into the works of the progressive forces in the universe – from the tiny DNA to planetary motion. Alan Hanslik and Steve Moniz have delivered a thought-provoking, fun and larger-than-life kind of release that seems to evolve with each listen.
Alan Hanslik is an American composer, musician, and producer (see a complete list of his albums here). Alan has also composed soundtracks for feature films and movies. His most recent releases are Precious Memory, Space Anomaly and In The Moment. Steve Moniz is a songwriter and guitar player. He has written songs in just about every style, from folk, fingerpicking, rock, blues, and contemporary. Evolution is Hanslik & Moniz Experiment’s third release (others are The Visitor, Side Show and Friendly Planet), plus the EP Gell’n and single Outside Man.
Evolution starts with the title track. Even though the opening is quite slow, we quickly get a taste of the soundscape the band has in store for us. The sharp strings, the mix of a jolly synth guitar and a more laid-back electric guitar, then the surprising sitar and more synth leads and distant voices. It is a Tubular Bells-ish presentation that, thanks to its free-flowing nature, feels organic and “real”. The sitar has a The Beatles, 1960s touch to it, further mixing up the initial ambient, Berlin school impression. It is, in short, an opening that is as wacky as it is promising. I’m sure seeing an evolution take place before your very eyes would have the same impression. It is the opposite of normal, a brand new expression. One word; bravo!
An equally fascinating piece is DNA. The intro sounds quite eerie, probably indicating dramatic incidents early in its four billion-year history. Or was that only a new chapter in the DNA’s history? Did it travel here from another planet? Or did evolution take place mixing RNA with DNA? One thing is certain; lots of crazy stuff took place over billions of years, and Hanslik & Moniz Experiment’s DNA seems to capture it all from the very beginning. The electric guitar sounds amazing and the textures too are world-class. The listener can sense the deoxyribonucleic acid being formed, stretched and slowly evolving. There is even a heavenly voice synth in the background, breathing life into the chemical substances. At the end, life begins.
Tune In seems to refine the life-giving idea. It starts carefully; you can almost feel the confusion the first organisms felt as they were adjusting and evolving, then evolving some more and adjusting again. The Rhodes keyboard and bell-like synth, plus some statics, all describe the billion-year process of tuning in. It is a brilliant ambient track.
The enigmatic and hard-hitting Easy Wind sounds anything but easy – but brings with it a sensation of moving air, that’s for sure! Its sharp and experimental expression makes the listener pay attention. Like a hard rock song, it refuses to stay in the background.
Escape continues in the same atmosphere. Its wild and untamed nature is especially apparent in the beginning. But then there is a change and the whole soundscape gets much more pleasant. It is tempting to think that the escape was successful and everything has changed for the better. The pressure is gone and a paradise-like world enfolds.
Here to There
All evolutions require some kind of movement, which Here to There nicely portrays. Are the seemingly random sounds of electrons doing atomic jumps perhaps? Like all the tracks on this release, it gets the imagination working.
There has always been a strong Sci-fi element to the music of Hanslik and Moniz, and Out Worlder takes this fine release into deep space, indicating that evolution doesn’t stop simply because we humans now know a bit about the secrets of nature and the universe. It is a never-ending process, as Out Worlder describes. In one shape or form, evolution has taken us this far – but it is only the beginning. Out Worlder’s ending is quite abrupt, which always makes me hit the replay button and go back to the beginning again – and, by making me do so, illustrates the four key principles of evolution: variation, inheritance, selection and time.
In conclusion: When quickly sampling Evolution by Hanslik & Moniz Experiment, it is easy to miss what the album is all about. Its playful and seemingly random nature, plus quite a few hard sounds, disqualify it as easy listening. But give it a go and as soon as you are “tuned in”, you start to decipher its messages. It feels a bit like adjusting a microscope and suddenly seeing sharp. What follows are Copernican-level discoveries and countless marvelous insights. It is, like Hanslik & Moniz Experiment’s previous albums, genre-defying, fresh and radically different. Evolution is music for thinking people.
I very much enjoy the eclectic mix of instruments. Its craziness tells us that it is not an album to be taken too seriously – or, at least, that is the initial experience. But there is another way to look at it too. It is a comment on how nature – and even the cosmos – works. With all the knowledge we have, there are still so much that we don’t understand. It is a crazy existence, and Hanslik & Moniz Experiment does a terrific job in describing that. The album requires a level of active listening, but when you get to know it you can use it as background music for creative work or sci-fi reading.
Gerard Pique said: “Evolution is about looking forward.” That is true about Hanslik & Moniz Experiment’s new album too. Evolution is a brilliant and highly energetic release that surprises on each listen. It is a release that pushes the boundaries of what a concept album is, and, at the same time, proves that experimentation is the first step on the road toward evolution.
For more information and music samples, visit alanhanslik.com/evolution.