Hamish Thomson (aka The Hermit) had to have produced Flying Out of Solitude with a certain sense of humor, given his juxtaposition of title and moniker, and that sense of humor is threaded through the song titles and sounds he presents to the listener. The ambient sound Thomson creates leaves you feeling as if you've been suspended in a high saline solution... warm and without gravity, easily able to let the jokes sink in and daydream. All of the songs, in fact, create instant images; like music for an opera, when a song is played, the scene is set.
The beat of 'Driving in Solitude' is happy but unchanging, the synth key high and echoey. It suggests the counting of tiles in a long underwater highway tunnel, or roadstops on a state turnpike. Percussion and synth dominate, but special effects are used throughout the album. "Ohio" features the recorded sound of running trains, and ends with a train whistling in the distance; the drumbeats mimic the noise of a locomotive engine. Anyone who has spent time in Ohio will become nostalgic listening to this sound; with CSX headquartered in Cincy for so long, and a real lack of trees out by Toledo to insulate sound, train engines and whistles permeate the landscape so thoroughly that their sound is inseparable from the land's geography. In "Second Wave", a toaster oven and a vintage air organ are used to create crashing sounds that resemble the second coming. The effects pedal used in "Swallow the Stars" allows the Hermit to create sounds like shooting stars and, well, swallows. Some of the music was created live, with each sound played by a real musician, which is a more intellectual concept for this genre; other tunes are studio-created loops of found sound and synth-created noise. This music is intelligent, playful, and always has a great beat.
While The Hermit experiments and has fun with the music he's creating, he never creates unlistenable art for art's sake -- every song has a melody. Impenetrable intellectual posturing is more of a cruel musical joke at the expense of cash customers, and all too common among his peers, which makes The Hermit's music that much more enjoyable. None of this stuff is really suitable for dancing, but that's not so rare for IDM; the "dance" in that acronym is usually a misnomer. After listening to half of the Nutone catalog, I can confidently say that almost anything you buy from them will be a happy purchase. Flying Out of Solitude is no exception.
By Jenn Sikes