Review Summary: Lush, thought provoking and timeless, Hex is driven by its beautiful musicianship and evocative atmosphere.
There’s something about older post rock that makes it truly stand out above the rest. Sure, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sigur Ros both have left their incredible mark on the genre, but pioneering bands like Slint and Talk Talk could be put side by side with the former two and be seen as equally, if not more influential. Whether it be Slint’s unsettling rawness or Talk Talk’s experimental subtlety, these bands definitely released albums that could only be called one of a kind. However, when Bark Psychosis came along with Hex
, post rock finally developed a name for itself and what an album Hex
proved to be. Boasting a lush sound and a truly masterful array of evocative songs, Hex
exists as an influential masterpiece and if closely examined, one could easily see how Explosions In The Sky gets some of their influence. Hex
also happens to be the perfect name for the album because the listener will notice how it immediately casts a spell that soothes all anxiety and worry for roughly 50 minutes and for this reason, the listener will not want it to end.
The thing that sets this album apart from its other influential colleagues happens to be a more direct approach to subtlety. For example, “A Street Scene” provides endless amounts of passion and soothing moments with fantastic bass work typically drowned out by other post rock bands and one of the most unique guitar tones that continues throughout the album. In addition to quietly whispered vocals that helps aid the tranquil atmosphere, the last two minutes of the track truly creates thought provoking visions of drifting off into sleep because of how slow the come down is. It’s as if the song was created with the sole purpose of aiding the sleeping process to send the listener off into the most beautiful dream possible. “Absent Friend,” which is the preceding track, is equally as masterful with it showcasing the band’s exceptional musicianship by means of complex guitar work and exemplary bass.
While the atmosphere of Hex
certainly would be the best aspect of the record, make no mistake that it also pulls no punches in terms of variety. “A Street Scene” and “Absent Friend” prove to be a bit more driven by traditional rock instruments, but “The Loom” and “Big Shot” happen to be very different compared to these two. “The Loom” starts the record off on a bit of a more classical note with it being driven by piano and strings as well as ending the track with somewhat atmospheric tribal drum beats. Meanwhile, “Big Shot” takes things to a more ambient level with soaring textures in the background along with engrossing bass work. From the more Talk Talk influenced sound of “Fingerspit” to the ambitiously written elements of the previous two mentioned here, the record soars in terms of variety.
Though every track on Hex
has something stunning to offer, the two concluding tracks exist as the true highlights of them all. “Eyes and Smiles” proves to be one of the most beautiful post rock tracks ever recorded with an undeniably evocative guitar tone and a subtly emotional build up filled with blaring horns, brilliant riffs and surprisingly unsettling vocals uncharacteristic of the record. However, “Pendulum Man” closes out the record in a bit of a different light compared to the rest. The track happens to be almost solely ambient with keyboards and echoing guitar work adding to the terrain in the background. It’s an undeniably perfect way to end a masterpiece like this and there doesn't exist a single complaint about the record as a whole when it’s all said and done.
exists as the huge turning point for the genre as a whole because here it was not only given an official name here, but started to give the genre the elements that it is known for today. While it may be a more traditional form of post rock, it undeniably proves to have many layers of complexity in its own right. It’s timeless, evocative and beautiful in more ways than one and it any lovers of the genre must experience this record. Jump into the car, turn it up to a high volume and let the album run its hypnotizing course on a long drive at night to be fully immersed in its genius. Any amount of anxiety, anger or sadness will be washed away in the mesmerizing journey.