Review of HOAN’s Album Modern Phase

A sound that manages to travel to a futuristic dimension where anyone is able to express any feelings they wish to. This is the music of HOAN.

A Montreal-based band that formed in 2015, HOAN explores different sounds through the use of a number of techniques and equipment. This includes fuzz, distortion, reverb pedals, sound boards and synthesizers.

The band is made up of Alexander Nicol on vocals, guitar and synthesizers, Oussama Laghzaoui playing lead guitar, Michael Heinermann on bass and Alexander Thibault on drums.

After finishing up a tour across North America, HOAN is back in Montreal and has recently released their first debut record Modern Phase as of April 2017.

The band has faced several challenges along the way. Gaining access to a sufficient amount of space for jamming has been one of them, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped them from creating their music.

“It’s fascinating for what makes us want to keep [creating music] since you are [constructing something new] while [also being surrounded by] your friends,” described Nicol.

Eventually, they found the place to produce their sound at Sound Hole, a recording studio in Montreal. The album plunges into the current era of online communications, by exploring the issues of connection and losing sight of surroundings.

What drove the band to their debut album were the musical inspirations from several of their favourite musicians.

“Neil Young is a great artist since everything done musically is going to be affected by our love towards him,” said Nicol. Young delivers powerful messages inside his solo repertoire or accompanied by other musicians such as David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.

The Spinners and especially the band Broadcast have also played a part in inspiring HOAN from developing their own unusual sounds into their repertoire such as their track “Poise.”

This particular track begins with a continuous shuffling drum beat, accompanied by the guitar playing a mellow four note chord progression, flushing out several melodies that are inspired by the post-punk genre.

At the end of the song, a soundboard and synthesizers are used to create a sound reminiscent of several lasers shooting in random bursts, replicating the nostalgic sound from Atari 2600’s cartridge game Space Invaders.

Listening to Modern Phase, I immediately enjoyed the track “Technocrats.” This song describes how individuals are concerned with how quickly technology is evolving and how they are not ready to adopt a fast-paced lifestyle.

“People are concerned how to innovate faster and how there is a lot of anxiety,” said Nicol. “Individuals aren’t ready for adopting these things too quickly or adapt that fast.”

The track begins with the synthesizers holding for a while onto a specific chord, followed by a soft repetitive drum beat, a funky low tone bass beat and a simple clean guitar chord progression with a small touch of distortion.

The momentum of the song changes into a fast paced beat, wherein the vocals slowly fade away, allowing the listeners to concentrate on this beat, until the vocals make a sudden return just like a boomerang.

“Lots of other bands in the studio would just add several layers over the tracks,” said Nicol. The band chose to keep this track simple by not adding any additional dubs. They wanted to have a big sound, especially considering that they had a limited amount of tools at their disposal.

“I want to make people imagine themselves in a world that they enjoy,” said Nicol.

Modern Phase // HOAN //

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