Tag Archives: Steve Hamann

[2011 in Review: SIGHUP, ‘City Passage’]

SIGHUP, 'City Passage' (Feedback Loop)

For more than a decade, Toronto-based artist Steve Hamann has been crafting sound under the guise of SIGHUP, a project where Hamann combines his ambient/drone compositions with a wide array of personal field recordings.  His latest release, under the Feedback Loop Label, is City Passage a meditative 3-track, 20-minute journey through Toronto’s urban soundscape.

Hamann explains that the concept of City Passage was inspired by “the daily routine of slowly passing through a city, a meditation on both listening to and ignoring the metropolitan experience.” Close listening seems to reveal Hamann traversing through industrial areas of the city due to the slow-moving, low-pitched mechanical sounds that are looped over churning metallic synth drones.

With the explosion of the Greater Toronto Area, along with the overhaul of its densely populated urban core, one wonders if this industrial-feeling rumination by Hamann is almost an attempt to capture a soundscape that is quickly fading (or perhaps faded) in the post-industrial world. After all, Toronto’s identity as an industrial center has long given way to that of a financial capital. But with that transition has come an explosion of construction as the financial sector has fueled a building boom, mainly in towering condos. It is impossible not to be overwhelmed by these high-rent waterfront citadels as one drives north on the Gardiner Expressway into the heart of this thriving metropolis.

So perhaps City Passage is a subtle commentary on this ramping up of construction, and perhaps the voice of what sounds like a young child in the title track “City Passage” symbolizes a sort of new urbanism in its infancy. Whatever it symbolizes, this looped recording is clearly the centerpiece of the album, as it is the most singular sound, as if the artists was building up to it all along.


Review by Jamie Moore 

[free music friday: SIGHUP – City Passage]


I woke up this morning to the sound of rain outside my window and cars splashing through the flooding streets.  For some reason those sounds immediately made me think of this recording by Toronto-based artists Steve Hamann aka SIGHUP. Seemed only fitting to track it down and share it for [free music friday].

Check the description below provided by the Feedback Loop Label.

There must be something in the water in Canada, the sheer abundance of talented and creative composers that I come across from Canada is astounding to me. The likes of Lyndsie Aguire, Simon Trottier and Nicolas Bernier spring to mind immediately when one associates ‘netlabel’ and ‘Canada’. It is a rich culture of creativity, and SIGHUP continues this trend with an intensely focused and meticulous release in City Passage.

Steve Hamann is the mind behind SIGHUP, an exploration into ambient music that has had a life over the last decade. Hamann describes his heavily textured ambient pieces as ‘the abstracted way in which people understand and process place’ and there is no better way to describe City Passage. The three tracks, spread over 20 minutes take you on a journey through a musical metropolis where Hamann successfully synthesises electronically manipulated sounds from the streets of Toronto with deep swells of ambience.

City import combines cold layers of sound with abrasive manipulated recordings that loop and grow louder with every passing second. The sense of place and location here is vivid as your mind locks into the groove of mangled sounds before they die away, seemingly habituated out of consciousness, only to return once again. The city is a dark place at times and I am reminded of grey cement filled construction sites, devoid of colour as City import slowly fades away.

Though Hamann paints a sombre picture of the city, with its tall buildings stretching to the sky and cars humming in the distance he doesn’t let go of the human aspect of the city. City Passage slowly builds with a child’s voice; words echo and are indiscernible but nevertheless human as an ambient wall of sound shifts its weight, caught in between the child and the bustling streets. Whenever I feel like taking a stroll through the streets of Toronto taking in and ignoring what I please all I will need is a pair of headphones and City Passage to keep me company.

Short Bio

Toronto-based musician Steve Hamann has been composing and performing electronic noise/ambient music as SIGHUP for the past decade. Recent works by SIGHUP have focused on the idea of the ambient experience, the abstracted way in which people understand and process place. At the heart of City Passage is the daily routine of slowly passing through a city, a meditation on both  listening to and ignoring the metropolitan experience.The work is a continuation of SIGHUP’s explorations of framing and transforming non-electronic sounds through electronic processes. All field recordings used were captured in Toronto, and all instruments were played/recorded by Steve Hamann.

mastered by madSavVy Productions
photo by Jessica Aliaga Lavrijsen
cover design by Leonardo Rosado
(cc) by nc nd July 2011