American Sound is a bold name for a British musician to use as their moniker. It’s the new solo project of Tom Hirst, who recently teamed up with Ravioli Me Away for their glorious HMS RMA project. He was also a member of Cleckhuddersfax and previously performed as Design A Wave. Hirst’s sound is a heady synth and guitar centric Kosmiche, with melodies that are strong from the off on ‘American Fantasy’.
“Fantasy I” revolves around a punchy beat and a simple two note bassline.
There are multiple layers of synth textures and simple counter melodies that give the song a retro-futuristic feel. Hirst takes a different approach with “Fantasy II”. A fuzzed out Kevin Shields-esque guitar chug provides the rhythm while airy Low synth melodies meander. These elements create a heady concoction.
“Fantasy III” continues this theme. A cinematic and atmospheric intro gives way to deep, textured guitar chords and stepped vocoded synth arpeggios and the track blissfully shimmers towards the end.
The dark and heavy pulses continue on “Fantasy IV”. Overdriven guitarchords are allowed to ring out into oblivion as crystalline synth and piano sounds cut through the thick sound fog. The drums make a timely return on “Fantasy V”; a track that, like a lot of ‘American Fantasy’, conjures images of 80s distopian sci-fi movies and 90s computer games.
“Fantasy VI” is gorgeous. The opening guitar line bursts through the clouds. The majestic synths counteract the oppressive guitar rumble in a way that reminds me of the Flaming Lips’ intense ’The Terror’ and some of the more abstract pieces of ‘American Head’ (aptly).
The emotive guitar work on “Fantasy VII” sounds like something from a lost cut of the Smashing Pumpkins’ ’Siamese Dream’, although this is where the comparison ends. The whispering synths hover gently atop, mimicking the chord changes.
By this point the album has really settled into itself.
The American Sound ’sound’ feels fully formed and “Fantasy VIII” simply compounds this further. Hirst has clearly considered the order of the set as “Fantasy IX” re-introduces the electronic drums to bring us out of the trance of the previous three tracks.
The set closes with “Fantasy Ten” which peculiarly breaks the Roman numeral trend of the rest of the album. The grungy guitars offer up one last dramatic hit.
Hirst’s sound sculptures are cinematic, hypnotic and melodically strong with a thick brooding atmosphere. ‘American Fantasy’ is an intoxicating listen throughout.
You may enjoy this if you like: Design A Wave, My Bloody Valentine, Tangerine Dream