Hilang Child - Years (Bella Union)

Hilang Child – Years (Bella Union)

It’s a good thing the name Hilang Child reflects the mixed background of its creator, Ed Riman – half Indonesian, half Welsh. Hilang means ‘lost‘ and ‘Lost Child’ may have a few people skipping past Years in the racks presuming it to be a rather affected carry on with an overly whimsical sense of poetry. This would be a shame. Years is a yearning record and somewhat gentle but it does have guts about it.

This debut from Riman is boldly self-produced. Eschewing outside influences to get a sound truer to earlier demo versions is frequently a terrible idea but the sophistication that encapsualates Years suggests his confidence is far from misplaced. For a first foray into album-land, this is a surprisingly mature record. There’s a ’70’s MOR vibe about the whole. The cheerfully titled ‘Rot‘ really does echo ‘Rocket Man‘ by Elton John. The multitracked vocals sound eerily similar to 10cc at times. Those looking for something cutting edge are going to leave empty-handed but the songs do have a settled charm that is appealing. Your mum might like Years but, there are worse indignities to suffer.

There is an acerbic wit about some of the song titles – ‘Oh, We’re Getting Along‘ – but it’s all about lush harmonies, buckets of echo on the drums and strident but dreamy vocals. Above anything, the album is warm. ‘Endless String‘ has a solemn, funereal piano line pulling you through but the vast sweeping synths envelope like a particularly comforting blanket.

Strangely, for a record produced by someone with, “little knowledge or ability in production“, Years is a little let down by the very thing that marks it out. Being so well put together, so polished, that it’s hard to get to any real grit or soul lends it a distance. It’s as if through an immaculate haze and a little difficult to get to the essence of the man. If this is the sound of someone prodding unfamiliar buttons in the studio it suggests an incredible natural talent in that area. A little more raw emotion on top of the slick and epic expanses would be welcome, however.

Years is a good effort for a debut and Ed Riman has a lot going on. Now head to the wilder shores, please.


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