HIDE, the Chicago-based Industrial duo consisting of vocalist Heather Gabel and instrumentalist Seth Sher, is a caustic reminder of exactly what their genre used to stand for. Since HIDE’s inception in 2014, the pair have been producing tracks that reach out and choke the listener with overwhelming bass, unnerving samples and rhythms pulled from the darkest of mindsets. Over it all, Gabel’s pained vocals roar above the din in a drone that’s both mesmerizing and unsettling. Now, with their first full-length, Castration Anxiety, released on March 23, HIDE is hitting the road to remind music fans of just what the Industrial genre is missing.
In many ways, old-school Industrial was an uncomfortable genre. The songs screeched and clanked with tilted, non-traditional sounds jammed together in a way that scared as often as it intrigued. But as the genre grew, the music began to soften. Elements of other electronics-based music seeped in and dulled the blade a bit. Whether or not these changes are seen as good or bad depends on the listener, but this fact is also what gives HIDE much of its abrasive impact. By erring on the side of the genre’s forefathers, HIDE’s music gets the blood flowing and the body moving, as the brain questions exactly how good of an idea that may be.
This artful unease carries over to HIDE’s live performance. Visually stark but undeniably enthralling, the duo has mixed lighting and Gabel’s siren-like fusion of sexuality and danger to capture the audience’s eye and keep it until the last beat drops. Sher’s carefully constructed layers of sound, pulsing and undulating beneath a wave of bass slams, are synced with strobe flickers, which makes it feel as if snapshots are being taken of Gabel and Sher trapped in time and then released as the inevitable next cascade of flashes locks them into another movement of cathartic explosion.
It is HIDE’s adherence to the pillars of Industrial that makes them so riveting. Their music draws in and pushes away and their live show is built just the same. It’s not beautiful music, nor should it be. HIDE’s musical output shines bright light on the dark places of humanity and dares you to look away.