Band Name: Carl Hauck
Album Name: Something to Laugh About EP
Best Element: Minimalism.
Genre: Acoustic songwriter
Label Name: N/a
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
First off, I must compliment the artwork on this release. You guys can’t see the inside cover or the CD itself, but Carl Hauck’s Something to Laugh About EP has the best artwork I’ve ever seen on a CD-r. It retains a consistent feel throughout three very different pictures, which is very tough to do, but through subtle uses of line and repetition, Mr. Hauck made it work.
It’s odd that there’s such continuity in Hauck’s artwork, because continuity is exactly what is missing in this EP. Opener “Absolute Relativity” is a meandering, minimalist, mostly instrumental track that sprawls across exactly fourteen minutes- taking up nearly half of the album’s running time with twinkling piano, forlorn lead guitar, occasional sound clips, warm synths and softly pulsing guitar and bass. It’s not bad, but as a student of the Sigur Ros school of minimalism, I believe that there has to be substantial growth throughout a song to constitute excellence- even if the song is 10+ minutes long. “Absolute Relativity” feels more like a bunch of separate thoughts strung together than one cohesive song- the downtempo guitar and synth noodling at 8:00 has little to do with the melancholy guitar solo at 2:00 and even less to do with the acoustic guitar and vocals section at 11:50.
The acoustic guitar and vocals section does have to do with the rest of the album, though. The other five tracks on this EP are of the acoustic singer/songwriter fare- in sharp contrast to the minimalist, moody “Absolute Relativity”. While “Absolute Relativity” had a quirky, almost bizarre songwriting, these tracks are standard fare for acoustic songwriters. Hauck proves his skill at writing a melody with “Dissociation” and shows off his lyrical skill in “Weekly Heretic” (impressive lyrical highlight: “Religion makes me lose my faith in man”), but these straight-up songs don’t really leave an impression.
The two best songs here are “The Cell” and “Regretting the Future”, each where Hauck takes his love of minimalism and fuses it with a songwriter’s touch. “The Cell” feels like an improved, shortened version of “Absolute Relativity”, as Hauck sets his calm, even tone on top of the forlorn spaciousness of the music and makes a stunner of a track.
“Regretting the Future” also features Hauck’s voice, but with only a very minimal guitar line behind it. The quiet humility, direct honesty, and perfect vocal performance of the track make it a beautiful addition to any mellow mix tape.
Hauck has passions at two ends of the spectrum- moody minimalist compositions and acoustic pop songwriting. When the two come together, the songs are excellent. When the two are on their own, the results are par. Hauck’s voice and lyrics are just too good to lose, so let’s hope that there are more meetings between the two genres in Carl Hauck’s future.