In recent years, Sydney-born DJ, producer and songwriter Hay, real name Tinnel Throssell, has blossomed into an underground star in her adopted home of London.
Based at Brixton Club Phonox for the past couple of years, Throssell groups are known for their frenetic pace and exhilarating hikes, which stretch largely into home and techno, with excursions into other, more exclusive styles. Always in the shadows and always seemingly with a shy smile, she is the starter of an unnaturally talented, intuitive and crowd-oriented DJ with far-reaching tastes.
Several of the dance music establishments that have showered her with praise (broadcast on Rinse FM, named BBC Essential Mix of the Year and broadcast set in the Boiler Room) speak to her growing reputation as a cheerful voter. So it makes sense that their debut album Baby, We Ascending will be met with extraordinary anticipation in both the UK and Australia.
However, any good DJ knows it’s good to keep the audience guessing – and the album represents something of a left turn. While there is still a fair amount of high-pitched techno, the best moments are aquatic, immersing you in the refreshing freshness of the early morning tide. It’s an album that reflects the loneliness Throssell felt after her tough touring slate was empty in the early months of the pandemic, finding her highs when she did nothing for her. The surrounding dividers provide an attractive new wrinkle in Haai’s reputation on the club scene.
The album’s final song, Tardigrade, is a standout: On a barrage of distorted ecstasy and sizzling cavernous drums, it sings of a relationship that seems halfway between rip and repair: “Nobody knows / Nobody cares / We both breathe reason enough to make you love me again.. Huge and rich, it’s a song stripped of all excess, allowing Throssell’s lyrics to hang in the air like mist. Equally enchanting is the Bodies of Water, as Throssell sings “Somewhere, on a brand-new day / In a puddle of love / I’m left behind / From this I took it / I saved you loneliness” to the beat of a bouncy frozen house.
There are hints of dance tracks filling the floor here—acoustic samples tuned to torsion, frantic breaking precision—but Throssell often falls back in favor of open space. These songs, like the similar blurry title track on the record, are clever and catchy, creating something natural and natural that echoes the impressionistic feel of Throssell’s lyrics, which use references to oceans, forests, and lakes to convey the serenity and comfort of the Channel’s natural world. Throssell uses simple metaphors that are often descriptive and effective; For example, in the title track, you compare the attraction of a lover to the ebb and flow: “I’m catching up with your wave / They’re crashing right above me.”
This icy botanical approach to electronic music puts Throssell in a growing environment of young producers – many of them women – who want to explore the natural world through techno. Recent recordings such as Inner Song by Kelly Lee Owens and The Abstract Soul of Keder Livansky have attempted to reach similar places, with Owens attempting to address the climate crisis in her record, and Kedr Livanskiy producer Yana Kedrina attempting to connect with the natural world in her record of Larvae.
In songs like Bodies of Water and Baby, we’re up, Haai’s music is also centered on nature – and it’s undeniable. But this creates a kind of tension in the album as a whole between the focused, atmospheric tracks and more prepared dance-burners like Pigeon Barren and FM. When you’re at it’s most, baby, we tend to slouch; These songs seem a little unrelated or even half agonizing alongside their edgy and amorphous cousins.
Every once in a while, Throssell balances the two feuding baby halves, We Rise. Orca, one of the last songs on the album, contrasts the frenetic minimal techno with the amazing surrounding calm. Gilded with motley chords, it feels like watching the sun rise after a long night, while deeply saturated Throssell Synthesizer softens the song’s frosty introduction. It’s a track that Throssell sees brings together the best parts of every aspect of her music – upwards, just as promised.