Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Bark Psychosis - Hex

Bark Psychosis

Released 1994 on Caroline
Reviewed by Graveyard Poet, 14/02/2012ce

Released on Valentine's Day in 1994, Hex is an aptly named album as it casts a spellbinding hypnosis on the listener. Simon Reynolds coined the genre description "post-rock" in his review of the album as it did not contain any of the usual cliches present in the standard post-punk and alternative rock of the 1980s/1990s. Where most bands simply hammered out their chords, this band spent long hours carefully studying and sculpting their immaculate structures. They were more jazz than rock--creating nocturnal chamber music which summoned the spirit of Miles Davis (ca. In A Silent Way) and the ambient sound paintings of Brian Eno (ca. Another Green World). Hex could be considered ahead of its time but more accurately it still sounds lost out of time. It's one of those rare records (such as Spirit of Eden or Storm in Heaven) which has no peers or parallels.

It is a melancholy and wintry song cycle which is deeply textured and cinematic. It's for those lonely moments in the middle of the night.

Hex opens with plangent piano and hovering strings, a cosmic waiting, the sound of snow falling, in "The Loom". There's a late night noirish neon glow in "A Street Scene" and "Big Shot" which are embellished with narcotic, chilled vibraphones. "Eyes & Smiles" is a stunning climax of icy guitar and glistening brass section where the anguished, moody vocals and lyrics climb to an evocative and haunting peak as Graham Sutton repeats:

"One step further back...."

"And you've gotta go home!"

It appears the album is over.

In a strikingly subtle way, Hex saves its definitive moment for last. "Pendulum Man" is the quintessential winter track--meditative and ethereal. It is a nearly 10 minute long instrumental of trance-inducing vastness. The guitar's metronomic tone resembles a pendulum swinging, the clock ticking, the minutes and hours of the overcast day gliding and passing away in time lapse. Around the 4-minute mark, there is a breakthrough in the drifting clouds--silver blue glow surrounds as lush organ and electronics seep into the soundscape. A stark and echoing guitar cascades ever so slowly while the piano from the beginning returns for a faltering end, sad and sighing notes. The organ drone fades into the distance.

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