HIVE1, the new project from former Battles frontman Tyondai Braxton, began as a multimedia art installation (under the moniker HIVE), premiering at The Guggenheim in 2013, and subsequently making its rounds across the globe. The installation consisted of alternating LED lights to match the futuristic sounds coming from five musicians, offering audiences an captivatingly surreal, nearly outer-body experience. Coming from the live setting to an eight-track album, out May 12 on Nonesuch, HIVE1 features the audio of the project, and gives listeners a chance to create their own scenarios with what they are hearing.
The first single, titled “Scout1”, is an almost primal stab of jittery and inconsistent tones, lasting over nine minutes long. An uneasy base is created with aural tones, acting as a blank canvas awaiting something Pollack-esque. Sudden, tom-heavy percussion enters while this slimy wah tone sticks itself onto the picture in jarring and sporadic intervals. A beat doesn’t make itself known until almost the three minute mark, not necessarily giving the track any structure, but rather, confounding the whole thing even more with the lack of one. Five minutes in, Braxton switches gears towards a spottier, more extraterrestrial direction, using an array of effects that come and go like the passing of space matter. The sludgy swamp-thing returns to close out the track and everything disappears, like the dawn of time meeting the end of the universe. Seven more tracks like this are likely to swallow you whole.