“Fuck it – scrape the bottom of the barrel, break the bottom, and see what happens.” Chicago writer and musician Havadine Stone is discussing the creation of her new album Hyena, a five-song collection of music she made following My Body, Compelled, just released this February. “Do I have more?” she wondered before deciding to dig for what “what was there when you think there isn’t anything.” Hyena shows Stone exploring ideas of mimicry through sonic recreations of rooms, spaces, and life. On “M23M3” she sings along to the radio. On “Intro Hyena” she experiments with hummed repetition and layering, another kind of mimesis, all of which asks “Why does a musician have to create a whole new sound, anyway?”
“Synthetic Crickets and Hospital” is perfectly literal – synthetic cricket sounds gently undulate alongside trebly, atmospheric breathing, suggesting a space and a closeness. Somehow it’s both comforting and disorienting, considering a post-cricket human life tied into our respiratory experience. “I’m very familiar with hospitals,” Stone explains, “and the sound of breathing – assisted breathing. Maybe this is demented, but once you get used to it, that it’s like, the sound of the breathing is something you can get comfortable with similar to crickets. I am in no way shape or form saying they are the same thing. But the way they fit together is interesting.”
There’s a significant change in the album halfway through – Stone adds melancholic piano on the album’s final two songs. On “Play with a Bird in Aarhus (Hail on the Roof or Popcorn),” she juxtaposes it with field recordings and synthesized percussion, once again creating a familiar, even cozy space – “I was thinking of what it’s like to be reading in my room. There’s music, and then it starts raining, and then that becomes a part of the room.” This is followed by the gorgeous piano closer “Hold It In,” sending the listener off gently, perhaps with misty eyes, but gently nonetheless.
Hyena begins and ends melodically – on one end stirred awake by Stone’s comforting, cooing hum, and on the other, put to rest by her lulling, evocative piano. These days we spend unhealthy amounts of time indoors – in the name of health, of course – but there is a sad sweetness to uniform repetition. Maybe we notice the details, nuances, and differences more. Maybe we appreciate our small comforts. As the day turns to night, we lay down and return to our oneiric abode, and mull over the new old sounds we heard or made that day. Havadine put them on an album.