Light Fingers

Blue Sausage Infant here with Supple Supple (INTANGIBLE ARTS IA014) record, a limited edition reissue of an item originally recorded and issued in 2001. By that time, according to creator Chester Hawkins, his solo project had been running for about 15 years, and he felt the need to create some form of “final statement”, perhaps to achieve a form of closure on his work. When he put it out in 2001, it was pressed on a CDR (“a novel format at the time”, he sighs wistfully) and only 50 copies were made.

Other records we’ve heard from the BSI, particularly 2011’s fine Negative Space LP, have shown that Hawkins is a master of his own particular band of synth-driven electronic rock music, and Supple Supple merely serves to confirm his expertise. What’s of interest here is his claim that he wanted to play everything “by hand”, which I assume means that sequencers and programmers were not permitted, and he hoped thereby to “exploit the magic in the mistakes”. His own ears are now telling him that he succeeded better than he thought at the time, hence this reissue. If I’m reading it right, it was also recorded on four-track technology rather than an all-digital platform, and this has meant that no audio correction or other malarkey has taken place in the new edition, no Tippexing out of errors. As to the music itself, Supple Supple exhibits the traits for which we have come to love this creator, such as melodies and instrumentals of a dark and pessimistic hue, balanced out with slightly more aggressive bursts of energy, or more introverted and uncertain pieces. I like the uncluttered feel, the skill and sensitivity in the playing, the way that an idea or motif is explored quite relentlessly until it’s been hunted down into the ground; all in all it’s that shade less “maximal” than Chester’s more recent forays. The only slightly jarring moments include the odd spoken-word (or rather mumbled) segments on some tracks, which don’t seem to add a lot to the overall experience, and now feel a little dated.

Fans of 1970s electronic prog from Germany or France will find much to reward their hungry ears, or anyone interested in exploring that narrow strip that lies between electronic music and rock music. As to the “finality” of the statement, Hawkins himself admits this didn’t really pan out as the Blue Sausage Infant project came back to life in 2007 and continued for a while thereafter. From 17th August 2021.

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