Album Review: Hanford Flyover – Hanford Tape Sessions

Band: Hanford Flyover | Band:Hanford Tape Sessions | Genre: Progressive rock, Psychedelic rock | Year: 2021

From: UK | Label: Fruits de Mer Records

For fans of: Cheer-Accident, Phideaux, early Pink Floyd

Bandcamp

The lockdowns of the last year-and-a-half interrupted many musical acts’ touring and recording plans. But at the same time, the sudden forced sedentary setup offered many opportunities to write and record at home. Hanford Tape Sessions is one such of those recordings. 

UK-based duo Hanford Flyover recorded all this music on a few portable cassette home recording devices. That technological limitation forced the band to keep things pared-back and straightforward, and the contrast to past releases’ lush sounds is obvious. The songs on this album are mostly short and to-the-point, but there are some interesting sonic experiments with satisfying structures.

Hanford Tape Sessions begins with the jangly, late ‘60s guitars of “Revolve”. Echoes of acts like Buffalo Springfield and Jefferson Airplane are immediately evident, but the song structures are more reminiscent of modern prog-pop acts.

“Noise” is my favorite track on the album. It opens with jaunty acoustic guitar and a weird, rubbery synth bleating out an infectious melody. Harmonized vocals add a fantastic, slightly-folky touch, and the bouncy rhythm keeps the song constantly rolling forward. This song treads the line between prog and psychedelia skillfully, including some wonderful, acidic guitar parts.

“Mr. Whetherman” sounds like a hybrid between early Phideaux and late ‘90s Porcupine Tree. There’s a certain weariness to this song which matches the spare arrangement and plaintive keyboards. “Another Sun” again sounds like a Phideaux-Porcupine Tree hybrid, but drawn from different elements. Slow, burbling synths and expansive, echoey vocals make this a satisfying, moody interlude.

The band returns to late ‘60s garage rock sounds with “Money in the Kettle”. It’s a simple composition with laid-back, bluesy vibes. Following that is “Today”, which opens with spooky, airy folk. That haunted mood carries on as the song slowly builds up. Synth pads add fullness to the guitar-and-hand-drums arrangement, and the closing synth solo fits in perfectly.

Hanford Tape Sessions ends on a pair of instrumentals. “Shortwave” is clearly influenced by acts like Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter. Sequenced synthesizers and cosmic textures are the focus. “Sunrise”, meanwhile, sounds like something Pink Floyd might have recorded in 1969. It’s another slow, spacey composition intercut with jazzy, psychedelic guitar noodling. Though enjoyable, these two instrumental cuts feel more like bonus tracks than an integral part of the album.

Hanford Tape Sessions has a warm, homemade quality about it, but at the same time, it manages to feel polished and professional without being sterile. There is the occasional hiccup here and there, but on the whole, this album is a fun, engaging blend of psych, prog, pop, and folk.

Score: 80/100

2 thoughts on “Album Review: Hanford Flyover – Hanford Tape Sessions

  1. I only just discovered Hanford Flyover and the Hanford Tape Sessions. I am just struck dumb because I have had a chip on my shoulder regarding the lousy lack of anything musically exciting since the late 90s. So much so, that I have completely withdrawn from the radio, internet music scene, or any other common source of today’s music. Since 2004 everything began to sound like one more weak attempt, but never quite captivating melody thrown at a wall to see if it sticks.

    But Hanford Flyover? (*blink* *blink*)

    Yes, I know this harkens back to the music of the late 60s with a hot vengeance, but this is exactly what I loved about it. The mood of the music back then had much more emotional depth than the insipid long stretch of nothingness that is music since the beginning of this century. Today’s cranked out crap revolves around happy happy, booty booty, dancy dancy, and the constant need to tell-off someone for disin’ them.

    All edm, rap, hip, over and over with nary a shift or change in sight. There was a time when popular music shifted and changed almost completely every five to ten years. Yet here we are listening to the same crack head garbage over and over. As for the alternative, it all sounds like rehash from the soundtrack of Garden State or early John Mayer, and Bubbles by Jack Jackson. I only wish I could find out more about who and what Hanford Flyover is, lol.

    Perhaps, the creativity that computer and synth technology originally allowed has reached its limit. Yes, this work is taped, and then processed through a computer, but what I am thinking of is the brain’s capacity to recognize sounds as either sourced from real elements or sampled. That and the automatic assumption that any sound heard outside the expected normally produced capacity of the natural world no longer can awe the listener the way it could thirty or more years ago. It is a rare occurrence anymore that a computer generated tone/sample is heard that, along with whatever clever syncopated rhythm drives it, is captivating anymore. Sometimes, I wonder if half the battle of modern songwriting is knowing that there is nothing original left under the sun.

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    1. It sounds to me like you’ve kept yourself willfully ignorant of most of the developments in music–both mainstream and non–over the last two decades. Your characterization of pop and hip-hop almost comes off as a purposefully out-of-touch copypasta.

      Putting in even a slight amount of effort would demonstrate that no matter what your preferences are, there is something to suit your tastes out there. Bandcamp is where I discover most of my music, and you can search by whatever tags you like.

      You also seem to be forgetting just how much absolutely crappy, anodyne, soulless pop existed in the past. Go look at some of the biggest hits of the mid ’70s or early ’90s. It was a different variety of insipid crap than today’s pop, but it was insipid crap, nonetheless.

      Most of what you talk about regarding pop music also dates you terribly. Jack Johnson has not (to my knowledge) been popular since the mid-2000s, and the indie sound present on the Garden State soundtrack has long since fallen out of pop favor. Rock of any sort is at a nadir of cultural relevance. I’m less well-versed in hip-hop, but that genre’s sound has also evolved noticeably over the last decade-plus. Artistic and thoughtful hip-hop has existed since the genre’s inception. Your comments are akin to someone lambasting rock or metal as being brainless and then holding up Motley Crue or Nickelback as their reasoning for it. Yes, those acts are bad and dumb, and they were quite mainstream at their peak. But they don’t represent the entirety of a broad genre, and their sounds are incredibly dated now.

      I want to challenge you to go do some actual hunting for music. Especially if you’re cognizant of the fact that your preferred music peaked in popularity decades, you should know you’ll need to hunt harder for things you like. There has been plenty of good music released for as long as there’s been a recording industry. It’s more a question of being able to sift through it all to find what you like while also understanding the cultural and technological context under which innovations and shifts in sound took place.

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