Bark Psychosis - Hex

by Sean Hewson Rating:10 Release Date:2017-09-15

Hex by Bark Psychosis was first released in 1994 (1994 was a great year for albums). Simon Reynolds famously came up with the term 'Post-Rock' in his review of the album in Mojo. Hex came out along with other records by Slowdive, Disco Inferno and Seefeel that heralded a bright future for adventurous music. They were soon to be swallowed by Brit Pop when the music papers decided to go for the bright shiny thing rather than the enigmatic thing. Hex has been newly remastered in 2017 from the original analog tapes at Metropolis Studios by Graham Sutton and Stuart Hawkes.

The Loom starts with Daniel Gish's melancholic piano. Rather like Max Richter or Current 93. The Duke Quartet come in with an understated string arrangement. Finally, Mark Simnett's drums and Graham Sutton's vocal come in. It is a beautiful piece of music. Sutton's guitar is more to the fore on A Street Scene, as he plays the kind of spidery guitar lines that would become synonymous with Post-Rock. There is a great sense of space and of time, that continues throughout the album - long instrumental sections are allowed to unfold at their own pace. Absent Friend has more guitar arpeggios along with a nice bit of melodica. Sutton's vocal is gentler here, just a whisper. The gentle feel and Sutton's vocal remind me of The Red House Painters. Again, the song is allowed to fully develop over eight minutes as Sutton's guitar and Gish's piano lines intertwine. Warm, ambient keyboards introduce Big Shot before John Ling's rubbery bass line and Simnett's off-kilter drumming wrong-foot you. The drumming on the album is often influenced by early 90s dance music but it's different enough not to date it. Pretty vibraphone and piano lines compliment each other during the quieter sections. And, like most tracks on this album, it goes through various moods and shifts before fading out. Fingerspit starts with some simple guitar and a little shuffling around on the drums. Sutton whispers his vocal. The loud guitar chords are very reminiscent of Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden along with The Red House Painters. Again, this is because of the space and the ambition. Eyes & Smiles sounds a little like Tortoise bolstered by brass and strings. The track builds as the brass and guitar riff become more intense and insistent. Then the drums drop out and it becomes more ambient, before building up again. We are somewhere in between Spirit of Eden and Bitches' Brew. The final track, Pendulum Man, starts with the simplest of guitar riffs, accompanied by an equally simple bass line. It's a wholly instrumental track that stretches out for almost 10 minutes, during which time very little happens. It is the perfect way to end this classic album.

Hex is about as close as anyone's got to Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk. Also, like that album and the work of Nick Drake, it sounds timeless - as relevant now as it was when it came out. It is a hugely original piece of work whilst also being influenced by Talk Talk, Eno, Miles Davis, Dub Reggae and The Red House Painters. Throughout it Bark Psychosis sound confident and in no hurry. Hex is a highly important album that all fans of music should be interested in.

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