Helena Hauff – Qualm

With Qualm, Helena Hauff returns to Ninja Tune channeling the spirit of The Hague’s electro scene and the bleak essence of post-Brexit industrial Britain

Album Review by Michael Lawson | 03 Aug 2018
Album title: Qualm
Artist: Helena Hauff
Label: Ninja Tune
Release date: 3 Aug

After flirting with melodies and poppier elements on 2017’s Have You Been There, Have You Seen It, Helena Hauff reverts to stripped-back, minimalist hardware jams on new 12-track LP Qualm.

Given her continued ascent towards global stardom, and in the name of appeasing her ever-widening fanbase, it would have been easy for the Hamburg-based artist to shift the emphasis towards a more palatable brand of electronica. The fact she’s instead opted for a bunch of gritty, Bunker Records-inspired analogue improvisations makes the end product all the more enjoyable.

Qualm is also underpinned by a peculiar sense of Britishness. Tracks titled Barrow Boot Boys, Fag Butts In the Fire Bucket and It Was All Fields Around Here When I Was a Kid allude to both Hauff’s obsession with British humour and her frequent trips to Leicester (a city she playfully describes as “the most boring in the UK”) visiting friends.

Like the track titles, the music itself conjures up images of desecrated industrial heartlands: snarling 303 workouts (The Smell of Suds and Steel); melancholic synths (Entropy Created You and Me); and doom-tinged acid (Hyper-Intelligent Genetically Enriched Cyborg) combine to create the quintessential post-Brexit dystopia – a world that Hauff appears far better equipped to navigate than most.

Listen to: Panegyric, No Qualms, Entropy Created You and Me