Hectic Zeniths is the alter ego of Adam Morgan Pierce, a high school math teacher by day and composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist by night. “Hectic Zeniths” is an album of instrumental hip-hop built around live instruments and original compositions. According to his bio, the name Hectic Zeniths is an anagram for Zeitschichten, a German word that means “layers of time.” It’s a fitting name for an artist that uses multiple layers of sound in his music.
Pierce uses contemporary classical music as his jumping off point for his beats. His main tools are piano, cello, vocal samples, drums, and a drum machine. “Then and Now” features a piano with backwards strings backed by live drums, all punctuated with a chorus of a man singing “close your eyes.” “I Might Drown” also works with a piano, and but is much more effusive and upbeat than the rest of the album. It’s not all piano, either. Things get switched up on the psych-rock workout “Why Shoot Debris About It?, and the guitar comes back in a more subtle fashion on “Zeitschtichen.”
For the most part, however, this is piano and strings over either live drums or a skittering drum machine, with random noises and samples piled on top for good measure. None of it could be described as banging, and the songs mainly work on the strength of the compositions rather than the head nod factor. If Max Richter or Hauschka decided to get funky, it might sound like Hectic Zeniths. This album may not be for everyone, but it makes for nice listening on a cold fall evening.