Bright Archer
Hidden Systems


2.0
poor

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
July 10th, 2011 | 9 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Beautifully crafted orchestral indie-pop has never managed to sound so inconsequential.

Hidden Systems is quite the polarizing debut for Johanna Kunin, who goes by the moniker Bright Archer. On one hand her music is expertly crafted, providing a technically sound foundation on which to build. On the other hand, though, it appears that Kunin doesn’t know what to do with all of the tools at her disposal (typical of a woman, am I right?)…I jest of course, but the honest truth is that Hidden Systems is an album that falls terribly short of its potential. Kunin puts her talents on clear display, but despite the occasionally gratifying moment, it usually leaves us scratching our head and wondering how something that sounds so dynamic can feel so empty.

It is quite possible that someone could listen to Hidden Systems and not remember a damn thing about it by the time it’s over, other than the fact that is was pretty relaxing. There is such thing as ambiance, but that isn’t what is accomplished here. Sure, the pianos are eloquent and expressive, but they are also too busy, rambling like a run on sentence that you are sure has a point, but you can’t quite catch your breath to figure out what that is. The string arrangements and orchestral backing give it a sense of emotional weight, but they are too few and far between. The closest thing to a hook comes in ‘Sunrising’, when Kunin playfully sings “who cares anyway” overtop of the same piano notes you will hear all album long. The lack of restraint on piano never really leaves room for anything else to fill the silence, and combined with an absence of catchy melodies, the whole thing ends up feeling rather forgettable.

From one song to the next, it sounds like Johanna is aimlessly meandering through a long list of indifferent sounding ballads. It can certainly be soothing, but it also lacks the atmospheric qualities to qualify as dreamlike or surreal. The unfortunate truth about Hidden Systems is that it simply isn’t creative enough; there doesn’t appear to be very much inspiration behind the songs or, if there is, the songs lack the distinctive qualities to discern it. If you are in the mood for a carefree stroll through the park one evening, this might suffice as pleasant background music. But even then, you might find yourself walking in circles to mimic the repetitiveness of this record. It isn’t that there is no hope for Bright Archer, because as was already mentioned, Kunin possesses the raw abilities needed to succeed as an indie musician. If she can find a way to craft more memorable melodies and incorporate some instrumental variation, Bright Archer might be a project worth keeping an eye on. But for now, Kunin’s talents are largely overshadowed by the disappointing lack of creative direction that plagues her debut.



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user ratings (3)
Chart.
1.8
poor

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2011


16908 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

When I saw this described as "orchestral, piano-driven indie pop" I nearly jizzed my pants. Plus the album art was interesting...so I gave this a listen. Suffice to say, it wasn't at all what I had hoped. Oh well, here's the stream anyway:

http://music.aol.com/new-releases-full-cds/spinner#/5

by the way if there is a track worth dl'ing i'd go with 'sunrising'

Digging: Low Roar - 0

cvlts
July 10th 2011


8983 Comments


this the beginning of a contributor comeback?

trymedude
July 10th 2011


151 Comments


i'll listen if i can find another stream, aol never works for me for some reason.

also

tl;dr

/neg

vanderb0b
July 10th 2011


3473 Comments


I listened to Featherweight and Sunrising. The former had really nice string arrangements towards the end, but, with the exception of that, most of what I heard sounded really, for lack of a better word, flat. It's a pity, as there's a lot of relatively pretty stuff going on and she has a pleasant voice (though, it seems that she struggles to hit some of Sunrising's higher notes). Good review.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2011


16908 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I know I bashed it a little hard in my review, but this was the hardest album to dislike.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2011


16908 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

genocide, what did you mean by your post? did i miss something?

sniper
July 11th 2011


19080 Comments


Plus the album art was interesting...
why i clicked on this review. it was good, have a pos.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2011


7320 Comments


Great review. This sounds awesome - I might still go and check it out, even if you said it sucked ;)

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 11th 2011


16908 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

you may very well like it - honestly, it's very pleasant. just way too dry and boring for my taste



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