Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Cassette Review: HEXN "al-khīmiyya - الخيمياء" (Old Bicycle Records)
[€7 // Edition of 128 // https://hexn.bandcamp.com/album/al-kh-miyya]
I'm not really sure how to describe HEXN as I don't feel like it is a musical project so much as an experience. I tend to think of someone sitting (or sometimes standing) somewhere, putting together various objects to create sounds and yet, through this cassette I cannot quite find the human side of it but that isn't to say that it is robotic or computer based either because it just feels like the music is in and of itself and not created by anyone else.
Electro beat loops begin the music and then there are also some helicopter whooshes and swirls added in. This eventually will become the sound of relaxed desert tones though it does eventually take on some claps. There is a chanting, which is kind of like singing and though I mentioned earlier how this doesn't feel human there are a number of noises (wind on certain surfaces) which could just as easily create these moments without the presence of something living in the sense of a human or animal. Frequency whirrs find their way mixed in somehow now which when combined gives off this trippy feeling like The Doors would have made if Jim Morrison was still alive today. (Yes, really. I think he would have gotten much more "experimental"- for lack of a better word- as rock n roll has seemingly become a shell of its once great self)
Slower beats come out. It's still trippy. There is also a ringing and this is how Side A reaches an end. The beats continue on Side B only they come through in the form of glitch crashes. Distorted drums bring about a somewhat video game vibe and there is talking which is yelling but not screaming more of when someone gets in front of a crowd, microphone in front of them or not, and begins speaking loudly and passionately about something. Given the time of year right now (election season) I tend to think of it as some candidate on their campaign trail giving a speech in front of their supporters, but even if it wasn't a year to vote I'd still think of it as being something along those lines or maybe like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech, which I realize is still political to some degree.
Now I know you're probably wondering how a voice which sounds human (It clearly is) can be heard on this cassette which I have noted doesn't seem to have been created by humans but the fact is, perhaps it is an alien race recording and observing us from space. Or maybe it's something as complicated and far fetched as the wind whispering some forgotten name. I can't explain everything about it. You have to think on some of these things for yourself, all right? Deep, serious tones come through with the words and then sharpness sets in. If humans can sample electronics, why can't electronics sample humans? Think about it. A human can manipulate an instrument to make music, why can't that same instrument somehow do the reverse? Think outside what you are taught.
For some reason to me, this next part sounds like the band Filter (no joke) and then triumphant synth brings us into some grinding. The end of it brings out some sharpness as well and I just can't help but imagine this as being crafted by something not of this world where the sharpness could be vocals or any of these glitches or beats could be in place of their otherwise instruments in the way a human might use them. I still can't explain why I get that vibe from this but it's well worth the listen just to experience for yourself something which feels crafted somehow beyond this mortal existence.