Hotel Neon are an ambient drone outfit comprised of twin brothers Michael and Andrew Tasselmyer who describe themselves as coming from somewhere between Washington D.C. and Wilmington, DE. Their debut self-titled L.P. was released back in the summer of 2013 and the recording of it was a relatively low-tech affair. Written, recorded and produced by the brothers with the use of a 2-track USB recording device, an assortment of cheap guitars with effects processors and a humble PC. As word spread the album was ‘randomly picked up’ by Japan based record label Home Normal who played around with the recording a little and discovered some hidden gold buried in the original mix. After some more thorough work by Ian Harwood at Home Normal, the album is ready to be re-released in all its re-mastered glory.
RELEASE DATE: 16 January 2015 LABEL: Home Normal
It’s safe to say that the album does come with a little hype, having been picked up by a label for a fresh re-master and re-release, and there is a modicum of expectation of something special riding on its shoulders, so how does the album itself do? Well it certainly isn’t a let down. The record clocks in at just under an hour and wasn’t a moment of disappointment at any point throughout. On first glance, a listener may feel that they are getting themselves into a rather dark journey with a track listing consisting of titles such as ‘A Lament’, ‘The Crushing Weight’, ‘Deprivation’ and ‘Lowly’. And yes on the surface the album does come across as quite a gloomy piece with roaring soundscapes and deep rumbles and murmurs appearing throughout, but, if you are to listen a little deeper and with the patience that the album deserves, there is a touching and emotive experience to be found within the deeply textured songs. It puts on a dark front, but deep down the album has wonderful, joyous undertones. I find there to be a somewhat existential place of happiness that can be found by the listener through the dark and melancholic drones, one of those strangely uplifting dark times. This is one of the true beauties of the album, if you simply listen to the album and let it come to you; there is an elevating quality to be found deep within after a little searching. This is a sentiment that is also poetically reflected in the very nature of the albums becoming and evolution, originally starting with simple recording methods by the two brothers, there was an excellent album, then after some more work and exploration by Home Normal, more lush sounds have been found deep within and have been brought out in the re-master and with it even more beauty, that may go unnoticed at first, has been unleashed.
So the re-master has done a good job of giving the album more range and depth, but there could be a worry that a certain charm and warmth could be lost due to the re-mastering of the album, given the record originally had such a lo-fi sentimentality. A feeling that the DIY feel of the album will vanish or the attractive lo-fi nature will have been lost in the polish of the professional re-work, however this is not the case. With the original recording the brothers managed to put together a very clean album that at no point actually felt lo-fi, and the re-master, as mentioned above, is an icing of the cake, a final tweak to beef out what is already there, Ian at Home Normal has done an excellent job to refine the lower ends of the tracks and has provided a crisper and clearer definition between the instruments which give the album more texture and depth when compared to the original release. The track ‘The Crushing Weight’ provides an excellent example of this, at around the 4 minute 30 mark there is a low rumble that, in the re-master, has been augmented, brought forward and made crisper so that it is easier to hear and creates a greater effect on the piece. Throughout the record there are similar cases of such augmentation meaning that more of the record can be heard and experienced.
What the brothers in Hotel Neon have created here is an excellent Ambient Drone album, and with the help of the folks at Home Normal it has been delightfully perfected. It is a clever record that never rushes to make any points, instead the repeated motifs and drones throughout change ever so slightly and with restraint, so that as a listener you are never shocked or stirred by any sudden changes. Instead you can simply just sit back and listen, letting the sounds become a part of you and the space that you inhabit whilst exploring every tiny nuance that is to be found deep within the recesses of the whole album, and most likely every listener will have a different experience as they themselves explore the work.