Htennek Niwhsa: The Smell of a Solitary House

If you were to just happen upon Htennek Niwsha‘s new EP, The Smell of a Solitary House, you might think it is the work of one person with a very hard to pronounce name and their piano. Luckily releases like these do come with bios, so you would quickly learn that it is the work of Ken Harrison and Ashwin Sood and the name is the duo’s first names backwards. If their names sound familiar to you, it is because they are the masterminds behind the ambient pop outfit PANToNE VU but Htennek Niwhsa delivers a far different experience.

For most of the tracks on the six song EP, it might be hard to determine what each musician is doing. The EP’s titular track opens the album and it does sound like solo piano instrumental–a gorgeous one but there are no decipherable other instruments.

The first track that really sounds like two musicians instead of one is “The Metal That it Needs.” It has the same piano tone as “The Smell of a Solitary House” but there is an additional percussive piano. The more percussive piano plays short staccato notes while the other piano plays a more sweeping melody. Even though the song is notably a duet, it also is the most repetitive. The more percussive piano plays the same ten notes on a loop for the track’s entire 2:43. Luckily with that short of a run time, it doesn’t end up feeling annoying.

In fact, all the tracks on the EP never overstay their welcome. With only one song over three minutes, Htennek Niwhsa feels like the punk rock of neo-classical. The songs come in, establish their themes, and get out. It makes The Smell of a Solitary House the kind of neo-classical EP that even non-classical music lovers will find palatable.

Rating: 6.9/10

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