Review Summary: An original and excellent album brought down by a rather lackluster second half.
Used CD stores really are the greatest, not only is the selection usually obscure but they are also darn cheap as well! This is where I stumbled upon Hex
, the debut album from post-rock mongrels Bark Psychosis. It’s funny how bands can change so rapidly, especially at the point where they go from an amateur band to an established act. Believe it or not, Bark Psychosis started out as a Napalm Death cover band and listening to this album, it seems light years from the band’s beginnings. The band were together for six years when they released Hex
and it shows how much more mature they have become. Some people consider this album among one of the first post-rock albums (Bark Psychosis were one of the bands named when Simon Reynolds coined the term) though it doesn’t drag into post-rock clichés, this is very original music.
If I were to use one word to describe Bark Psychosis’s music, it would be ‘lush’. Everything here is very relaxing and dreamy while at times melancholy and distressing. The sound is tremendously varied here, combining electronic sampling with guitars, a string quartet and pianos. The band stretch these sounds into something innovative and make for a very pleasurable listen. “The Loom” starts it off in terrific style with a beautiful piano and string intro until it evolves into a sort of shoegaze offering with some immense jungle rhythms. The album only gets better though as “A Street Scene” blossoms out and immerses you into this ethereal world of sad, crooning vocals and uplifting electronic samples. However the best track has to be “Absent Friend” which is just comforting and has the best vocal track here. Who can deny the spine-tingling pleasure when Sutton quietly sings the line, “And that’s the biggest joke of all”" The guitars are just blissfully sublime and creates another dimension of musical heaven.
So far this review has been completely positive however Hex
faults itself by trailing off at the end. The end tracks never manage to recreate the magic that the first few tracks had and that’s where the album falls flat on it’s backside. While the first half of the album tends to make a lot of captivating moments, the second half just sounds the same as the first half and that’s very disappointing considering that the first half is of such high quality. If the band managed to put in some more ideas into the second half then it could have been a lot better. They also have a tendency to drag on mostly due to the lack of ideas presented. These tracks could have worked if they were more concise.
However, coming out of this rant mode, I still stand by my statement that this is a completely original record. While it’s noticeable that some bands have taken ideas from this, they definitely never perfected it like Bark Psychosis did. The guitars sound amazing as they sound crystal clear and icy, the samples add another layer to the music, the vocals are relaxing and the bass always seems to do something interesting. These factors are what make Hex
- an abundance of quality musicians that have a knack for creating atmosphere. Any open-minded people or fans of post-rock would get something out of this definitely however be prepared for the tedious second half. Some people may enjoy it but I’m just not one of them. Overall, a very interesting album and is a worthwhile listen.
A Street Scene