Easter Rising

Chester Hawkins
Apostasy Suite

Another all-solo record from Washington DC’s finest proponent of dark broody synth work and evil pulsating rhythms, the latest since 2014’s Semisolids. I had to look up the word Apostasy, but there’s no need as the press release helpfully includes a printed definition anyway, the better to guide us through this “concept album”. Apostasy is to do with renouncing any belief system, be it religious or political, and clearly Hawkins finds himself at that particular crossroads in a man’s life where he feels it necessary to burn down the temples, demolish the statues and trample underfoot the edicts and articles of faith that have shaped his life until now. He himself calls this process a “purification by burning”, “stripping away all the value systems imposed by the outside”. He sees fit to do it through music, using modular synths, keyboards, loops, oscillators, sequencers and sundry objects like the mobile phone to generate strong, soul-searching instrumentals of abstract black shapes, fit for use as the walls of an anti-chapel where he can conduct his personal anti-prayer rituals.

Part of the process is to construct a parody of religious ceremony of sorts, a strategy which is enacted not just in the titles and cover artworks, but also in the structure of the album itself: the music is top and tailed with “corruptions of the Catholic Mass”, with tunes that resemble church music or hymns played on the organ, and references to the high holy date of Easter; fittingly and ironically ending with a “dissolution”, affirming Hawkins’ final divorce and separation. I’ve always enjoyed the single-minded and relentless aspect to Hawkins’ music, and no more so than in this instance where its remorseless repetitions are used to a near-harrowing effect. What’s also notable here is that all the music is performed live, whether at a venue in the studio, suggesting that he’s able to generate and control these multiple layers and inputs with the assurance of a jet airliner pilot. Listen for yourself and decide whether Hawkins achieves the hoped-for catharsis through this ritualistic purging exercise. From 24 March 2015.

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