Hugo Race: Between Hemispheres

(Gusstaff Records, Poland. UK Distribution: Baked Goods)

HUGO RACE - Between Hemispheres
CD // £10.99
Released: Nov 2009
Catalogue Number: GRAM0905CD

Setting aside Hugo’s past with the Melbourne post-punk scene and the Bad Seeds in the eighties, and his solo work from the nineties until now with the True Spirit collective, over the last decade he has continued to release a steady stream of experimental collaborative projects such as Dirtmusic, Sepiatone, Merola Matrix and Transfargo to an expanding global audience. And now, his first solo electronic album, ‘Between Hemispheres’:

Taking its cue from the instrumental electronica of We Create Tomorrow (Reprise), the closing track of Hugo’s 2007 ‘53rd State’ album, comes the new Hugo Race release ‘Between Hemispheres’. This instrumental album contains no human voices – instead, raw acoustic instruments are pitted against sculpted analogue sounds in a vast organic space both dramatic and meditative, brutal yet beautiful. Here the delta blues remains – but distantly, like background radiation.
Recorded in Africa, Europe and Australia, Between Hemispheres carries references to Hugo’s work with Transfargo (the instrumental ‘Mil Transit’ album from 2004), and the experimentalism of the True Spirit’s ‘Wet Dream’ and ‘Ambuscado’. Using the African string instruments ngone and kora against a stark background of analogue synth, digital pulses, deep space radio signals and widescreen guitar, Race composes a dreamlike experience that echoes his own songwriting.
A trip into the glacial interstice between quantum and digital, these interdimensional meditations traverse the synapse between the left and right sides of the brain, between thought and expression, between two oscillating magnetic poles - between hemispheres.
International Press

UNCUT (UK) January 2010

4 stars

Remarkable ambient excursion from ex-Bad Seed.

This is the culmination of a long and strange journey for Race, who started musical life in the Melbourne post-punk scene. This entirely instrumental album is at once pan-global in its influence, using African instruments like the ngoni, while also reflecting the duality of both sides of the brain – hence the punning title. What’s so arresting about Between Hemispheres is its physicality. The ambience reminds of Eno and Harold Budd but elements of distortion suggest a man not afraid to get his shoes dirty. There’s a soiled intensity about this album – both sweeping beauty and true grit.

- David Stubbs


Hugo Race
Between Hemispheres

It's more than 25 years since Hugo Race was guitarist in the first incarnation of The Bad Seeds, and more than 20 since he left to form post-punk vehicles like The Wreckery and the True Spirit. Time has clearly wrought changes; Between Hemispheresi is an altogether more articulate experience which pits Race's scruffy, bluesy twitches and jerks against brooding surges of white noise. West African influences are also folded into the cinematic mix - "Antegone" is a spectral dialogue between stark, baritone desert blues and clouds of radio interference, while "Unknown#09" threads spindly ngoni patterns through gaseous exhalations reminiscent of Apollo-era Eno. But this is no glossy, coffee-table fusion project; in Race's hands, the kora on "White Spheres" negotiates eerie, dissonant intervals, and a commendably haphazard approach to mixing delivers a succession of unexpected sonic incursions thoughout.

- Julian Cowley (UK)

HUGO RACE - Between Hemispheres, GUSSTAFF

Probably best known for his stint in The Bad Seeds (as in Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds), Melbourne post-punk veteran Hugo Race arrives at Polish label Gustaff with a brand new album that draws on experimental electronics, African string instruments and even radio signals from deep space. One of the first things to strike you about the record is the power of deep, swollen bass textures dominating the soundscape, and during the metallic twangs of 'Antegone' and 'On Heat's droning depth charges the low end gets a thorough workout. Usage of ngone and kora dissolves into the filtered soundmass rather beautifully, never seeming at odds with the glitch-laden drone tones and flickering dub tweaks of 'Dry Fuses'. Similarly, these rusty sunding string plucks immerse into the deep-set moroseness of 'White Spheres' without upsetting the hazy, abstract gauziness of the overall vision. Good stuff (NL)

Hugo Race - Between Hemispheres
[cd, Gusstaff /Baked Goods] [cd, Gusstaff / Baked Goods]

Hugo Race, reknowned as a member of Nick Cave's Bad Seeds and as founder of the Australian band The Wreckery, has mainly been heard as Hugo Race & The True Spirit, which makes dark rock ballads.

Now the veteran is back with Between Hemispheres, this time without the True Spirit, although it seems he still finds himself in real spiritual spheres.
No singing this time, but raw acoustic instruments, African stringed instruments (ngöne, kora) and an electric guitar that are stacked in a pile of dominant electronics - Race has here indeed a largely electronic album.
It starts with dark soundscapes full of drones, glitch and heavy bass.
Because of these instruments and in particular the African beats, this is not as close to many colleagues droners as might be the case, ensuing that this is also a meditative and mysterious character, also quite cinematic and entirely to the imagination.
As the album progresses Hugo Race shifts the emphasis to more spatial synth sounds and classic elements, making the music too slow to be lighter in character, as if you're on Earth and begin to slowly transcend...
He is now somewhere between Jacaszek, Roy Montgomery, Emiter, David Lynch and tribal music, imploring beauty that you often do happen to breath.
It is really unbelievable that this is the same Hugo Race…

Listen online at

door Jan Willem Broek by Jan Willem Broek


Hugo Race - Between Hemispheres (Gusstaff / GRAM0905)

The Australian Hugo Race, with Berlin, Prague and Italy in his history, is ultimately a Blues Man. But – and this makes it relevant for this review – he has always experimented with electronics, ambient sound, psychedelics and the oblique. So, whereas morbid bohemians like Cave, Howard, Johnson and Harvey at the end of the day remain underground with their swamp blues guitars, Race – and his main project the True Spirit – is always one step further ahead. Acid sounds and above all loops and samples have always made the True Spirit albums exciting listening. And now comes this third instrumental album (Between Hemispheres), following “Wet Dream” and “Ambuscado” (mailorder releases only on Glitterhouse Records). Here, the guitar and the blues are barely heard, Race’s dark voice is also removed, and surprisingly African instruments resound (kora, ngone). What’s left behind is Ry Cooder, Giant Sand and Calexico in a very dark space.

- cj