Solar Fields and Aes Dana, two of Ultimae’s greatest artists with a long list of amazing releases behind them, team up for the second time as H.U.V.A. (Humans Under Visual Atmospheres) Network. I was a little disappointed with the first album, Distances, because despite it being a very solid enjoyable album, it just wasn’t as good as either Vince or Magnus’ solo work. So with this second collaboration album have these two music maestros managed to put something together that is worthy of having both their names put next to it? Well, yes and no. Overall this is an enjoyable album as you would expect from Ultimae with melancholic atmosphere, chilled out beats and beautiful melodies. Some of the tracks here are outstanding, but for me there are just not enough of them, and the flow of the album is spoilt for me by the two upbeat progressive tracks in the middle of the album.
The first two tracks are for me the weakest and no matter how many times I listen to the album they just refuse to grow on me. I have listened to this whilst going to bed, walking through the forest, on the train to work, taking a bath, strolling along the beach and in various other locations and different moods, but I just don’t find them to be very good. Dissolving Time (T1) seems to be a perfect blend of the two artists with Aes Dana’s rhythm and Solar Fields’ melodies but it sounds too forced and I am under whelmed by it. Blank (T2) is nice but is too long without any progression.
Orientations (T3-5) is where this album really picks up. All parts are very visual, psychedelic and take me on a journey. The first part is spacey like I am flying high in other dimensions while the second part brings me right down to Earth with the feeling that I am walking back home very early in the morning after a night out with no sleep and the sun beating down on me sideways. I’d love to hear the second part mixed in with Solar Fields’ Air Song (8am version). The final part reminds me of bleak English countryside and it progresses beautifully getting better and better as the track goes on, making you wish it would never end.
After Orientations come 2 upbeat tracks which for me spoil the flow of such a lovely chillout atmosphere. Cobalt (T6) is, stand alone, a fantastic progressive track reminiscent of Solar Fields’ EarthShine. The lush melodies and ambient drones give this such a lot of atmosphere that it can send me on a very visual journey like ambient or Goa. Fade Away, however, is a nice but forgettable track. Diagrams (T8) is a welcome return to downbeat with a sublime melody in the second half, but Something Heavens (T9) is for me the best on the album. The bass moves like a snake, the beats are so chilled and the lush eastern melodies are not so obvious yet still powerful, and overall I am left feeling very satisfied. As if to punctuate the hit and miss element of the album, Sunday Barbeque With New Neighbours is a drab little number to end the album that doesn’t ask to be remembered.