Bart Hawkins Vision of Eden (2021)
Updated: Jan 24
“Sharpen your ears because the journey depends on what one hears”
1 Garden of Grace 7:41
2 Orbital Eccentricity 9:13
3 Sidewinder 13:31
4 Descent into the Forbidden Fruit 11:29
5 Dragonfly Speaks 12:18
(CD/DDL 54:11) (V.F.)
(Modular Synth Music)
I was first introduced to the Hawkins universe with 21 Pulse Eclipse in 2019. The reverberating drones, tied to the multilayers of guitar and modular synth, had this fascinating attraction, even if the album required a lot of patience and love. It's a bit different with VISION OF EDEN, an album inspired by the book of Genesis that Bart Hawkins sets to music with a vision that can easily connect with our own. The music still flirts with the abstract side of this modular art. Layers of dissonant sounds and drones with sizzling and/or white noise outlines, dull rhythms beating like that mass of blood in our temples, rhythmic adrenaline rush woven into the emotion of noise. In short, I could go on and on, so much that surrounds VISION OF EDEN is at the limit of the interpretation of sounds. Sharpen your ears because the journey depends on what one hears.
A wave of chirps and synth are at the origin of Garden of Grace. The texture is lush with a panoply of samplings corresponding to a neighborhood life disturbed by these masses of tones that clump together to solidify the underside' basis where we feel our feet tread the ceiling. Claps of hands come and go in this dust of despair where we hear human voices bellowing. Is it a violin? It could be, as Hawkins' art of the modular goes through different levels to communicate with his audience's ears. Dramatic or intensity space, Garden of Grace detaches itself from its reality to melt into silence. The intensity of Orbital Eccentricity is easy to grasp, with the piano notes flowing like an artificial waterfall along its minimalist path. The movement oscillates with slowness, as the mass of sound stretches its range. A jerky beat emerges, creating a hectic rhythm supported by a slew of sound effects in an ambience of tonal disruption that borders on heresy. The guitar riffs and chords are melted to be crumbled into desperate laments that end up reconnecting with that piano line that opened the door to a delightful 9 minutes of intense passing madness. But to be honest, one appreciates the vigor of Orbital Eccentricity after hearing the awesome Sidewinder. Noises become drones where we hear a guitar scribbling some riffs and chords. Always growing, this wave of noises rolls over itself as we hear more and more loops and distortions from the guitar, a bit like a kid rubbing his toys on it. Ambient noises become plots as the pulsating rhythm coming from nowhere grows bigger and bigger to switch into a modular train which hiccups like if it's losing bolts on its way up. We reach the halfway point, and the train runs out of energy. It gets filled of distorted effects and sounds and then it starts up again with shamanic rattles that seem to dictate this heavy and static pulsating rhythm. The illusion of the train is more than perfect while I am far from the Book of Genesis! The flaccid and viscous atmospheres that introduce Descent into the Forbidden Fruit bring me back to that Book. I can even hear the snake speaking through the splatters of slime as Bart Hawkins' guitar seems to have remade itself with a big line of riffs and distortions. Sidewinder's energy seems to have moved to this side of the music with that ever so thunderous movement and electric venom snarling as Eve bites into that famous mythical apple. It's about time this rage turned into something else because my ears are starting to redden of noises. Dragonfly Speaks is therefore welcome. This beautiful oceanic ode has the reflection of the most peaceful moments of the American EM for an album born from a symphony of noises. I think of Steve Roach of course, but especially of Michael Stearns. The musical texture always has this mysterious side with this panoply of white noises that form the outlines of beings and/or elusive objects. In spite of this penchant for an abstract art form, and without knowing it perhaps, Bart Hawkins signs here a beautiful moment of meditative music rich in its power of attraction...Splendid, from start to end!
Sylvain Lupari (16/06/21) ****¼*
Available at Spotted Peccary Bandcamp