Music Reviews

Artist: Chester Hawkins (@)
Title: Semisolids
Format: CD
Label: Intangible Arts
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed some of Chester Hawkins' work under the moniker Blue Sausage Infant ('Manitou' and 'Negative Space') and enjoyed his work. Evidently, he has retired that project to record under his own name. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, his website describes it thus: 'Using an arsenal of electronics, tapes, acoustics, handmade objects, and modified instruments, the goal has always been to create deep and elegant trance states with a glaze of paranoid tension.' Sounds about right. Let's see what happens when the names change but the players remain the same. 'Iodine' kicks it off with some noisy experimental ' well within the BSI constellation of music. Then 'Nematodes' drops us down the rabbit hole of repetition by degrees, which yields a hypnotic effect. 'Malattia del Sonno' keeps the repetition theme going but has a weird vibe to it that is powerful. Every so often a song kind of burrows into your soul; this is one of those songs. Haunting, dark, and beautiful. By the time we get to 'Plasmid,' it is clear to see that the entire album is an exercise in repetition, but not the stock ABABAB kind of repetition. Rather, this is the kind of repetition that folds in on itself in incrementally changing degrees, shifting ever so slightly on each pass. Sometimes this repetition is comforting because it provides grounding and a sense of direction ('Isle of Dogs'). Other times, this repetition is claustrophobic and disorienting, making you wonder where, exactly, it all went so horribly wrong ('The Brood,' 'Proximity Fuze'). Overall, this is well crafted and engaging. Finally, the review would not be complete without at least a mention of the liner notes. The text makes little sense combined, but has sentences like 'Mad eunuch choirs gone feral in the orchestra pit wielding the dead as bludgeons against the living. Molten sinewaves keeping bacteria down a massive Iron Age trachea, blurting out gospels like blood in the water to summon the final lizards pilot pilot pilot he's not responding pilot pilot something moved behind the eyelids I swear it....' These are not lyrics, but it gives you some sense of what you're in for. A solid offering from this prolific artist. This album weighs in at around 67 minutes.

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