HEXA - Material Interstices
Over the last 20 or so years, the Australian based composer, Lawrence English, has carved a fascinating path through the field of electroacoustic music, producing numerous critically heralded solo releases and collaborations, all the while supporting the broader context of experimental music with his Room40 imprint. Having had an incredibly productive 2021, issuing two solo LPs - A Mirror Holds the Sky and Observation of Breath - as well as Breathing Spirit Forms, a trio with David Toop and Akio Suzuki, English returns within the outfit HEXA, his long standing duo with American artist, Jamie Stewart, of Xiu Xiu fame, delivering Material Interstices, a brooding body of dark ambiences, marked by subtlety and constraint rarely encountered today. As immersive as it is challenging, few records could be better suited for the long days of winter ahead.
Founded in the middle 2010s, HEXA represents a fascinating cathartic extension of the respective practices of its two members, Lawrence English and Jamie Stewart. While arguably closer to English’s field recording and synthesis-based work - infused with an unprecedented sense of darkness - it would hard to image anything further from the project's ambient expanses than Stewart pointedly pop forays within Xiu Xiu. Hexa grew from a number of encounters and conversations between English and Stewart - each based on opposite sides of the globe - which explored body, sound and the physical effect of sound. Driven by a shared interest in the absolute occupation of the body by sound pressure, they developed HEXA, a collaborative "investigation into the physiological and psychological impacts of vibration.”
Material Interstices, HEXA’s fourth release, builds on the back of their self-titled debut, issued in 2015, Factory Photographs, released the following year, and 2018’s Achromatic, made in collaboration with Merzbow. The album draws inspiration from two of English's recurring dreams, augmented by both artist’s complex relationships to sleep, setting the stage for the construction of a series of eerie sonic expanses that blur the boundaries between the real and unreal. Comprising eight discreet compositions across the LP’s two sides, source material and reference points - with the hands of the artists - rapidly fade from view within the raw materiality of sound and sprawling ambiences, flirting at the edges of the imagistic and entirely abstract, as much as brutality and embracing calm.
With touchstones in industrial and electroacoustic music, as well as environmental field recording, Hexa’s Material Interstices is a visionary rethinking of the terms of ambient music, unlike anything else. Issued by Room40 on vinyl, it’s already sold out at source. Grab a copy fast before it’s gone for good.