This is Mikko Singh's best and most consistent record yet as Haleiwa. Both his first full length releases Pura Vida dude and Palm Trees Of The Subarctic were light and dreamy, while his third Cloud Formations accelerated Haleiwa onto another level, driven by good tunes and several great moments, not least the plunge through synthesizers into warm bass driven melody on the opener "HKI-97," and the digital blips of "Foggy" which (perhaps unconsciously) resembles Brian Wilson frantically transposing part of "California Girls" into morse code. That third record heralded a deeper sound, perhaps because Singh switched to analog cassette and reel-to-reel tape recording, and it also included more variety although for no clear reason. Hallway Waverider avoids that pitfall by finding a sweet spot and then showing little or no desire to move very far away.
Of course there is variety here, but it is subsumed beneath a definite creative vision; a vision which looks backwards. Dedicated to his mother who passed away in 2015, and inspired by his own earlier self spending winter months skateboarding in his bedroom while listening to music. The overall sound is of music for surfing, but surfing on air, memory, and metaphor, back to the halcyon days of carefreeness and family love. If there is any slight hint of original Dick Dale surf guitar twang (or even Psychocandy style surfing on polluted Glaswegian effluent) it has died peacefully and gone to heaven in a sonic envelope of featherlight fuzz.
There is a subtly brilliant motorik drive underlaying parts of the album, though, right from the anthemic first track "River Park/Sleeping Pill." This quality partly stems from the drumming, but also comes out of pulsing synthesizers, from lovely hollow bass-driven echoing melody lines, and enveloping production. All this naturally adds to the sense of continual movement going nowhere fast. If popular music, on a count of 1,2,3,4, often lurches forward in a linear fashion heading off: down the road, over the hillside, into the future, then by contrast Hallway Waverider seems to spin its wheels on the spot, staying close to zero or even shifting backwards into imaginary numbers, passing the square root of minus one on the way to nothing but itself.
I once had a weekly 2 hour radio slot (Tuesdays usually) and after some months realized that I was fond of choosing the show's final track and invariably prepared by picking that and then working backwards. Eventually I had so many final track possibilities stockpiled that any given show could consist of around 60% of these final tracks. If I were to do a show now, anything from Hallway Waverider would fit the final track bill, fading in and out as if it had already been playing and would continue to play long after it seemed to have disappeared out of earshot. The album is a consistently fine listen all the way through, as it floats through "A Bottomless Pit," picks up some static grit on "Watered Down," flips across into sublime Lynchian dream territory for "Hide Away," and arrives all too soon at the magnificent yearning final track "Hallway Waverider" itself. My only gripe is the absence of a lyric sheet, especially since from what I have seen the lyrics are entirely apt and a great addition.
"A road/Brings you forth/Levels up/Levels down/Back again/At square one/ Holding on/To Nothing."
"The sea/ You're riding in/ Will merge/ With the sky/ A slow/ Feeling calls/ You out/ Once again/ A low heaven/ Follows you/ Around/ Again."