[20 October 2009]
Hexlove’s Your Love of Music Will Play an Important Part in Your Life (named for a fortune-cookie fortune that he, and incidentally I, once received) is two albums in one. Hexlove (aka Zachary Dain Nelson) had the good sense to realize that he had two very different styles of music and that putting them on separate discs was the best way to make each one its own experience. What resulted from his musicmaking is an expansive, often difficult, never hackneyed collection of percussion and synths doing ungodly things together. The first disc is by far the safer bet for those wanting pretty chill-out music, but the second disc brings more heavy percussion and metallic drone.
The first disc is a fine assemblage of sounds, but it’d be difficult for anyone but drone enthusiasts to call them songs at first. There are samples from various sources, free jazz bits, prominent percussion that sounds like tinkling rain, and wordless vocals.These song-collages are lengthy, too, ranging from four to 13 minutes but averaging around seven. This isn’t music you could dance to, work out to, make out to, or really designate for any specific activity aside from spacing out, at first in confusion and then in bliss. This is not a disc to win you over right away, but to slowly pull you in once you learn to find the songs hidden inside the sounds.
Most of the tracks on the first disc morph throughout but don’t have any linear movement or structure that informs them.. Even for its seven and a half minutes, “Boose Who” doesn’t offer much of a progression or arc throughout the song. “Sonrise” is a slightly easier sell for its more melodic inclusion of birdlike synths, but the marching band percussion still guides this song, also through seven and a half minutes. The prettiest track here is “Willing”, full of Eno-like synths and gentle, ambient sounds. Given the beauty of the song and the way it meanders while holding onto a thread, plus its over 13-minute length, one almost wishes the first disc were simply this track. But then the flamenco-inflected “Trust Mouth” comes along, and it has its own seductive motion from Spanish guitars to cowbells and heavy drumbeats, and it’s hardly a throwaway track either. It may take a few listens, but it’s hard not to come to love the echoing vocals and drifting sonic exploration of the first disc.
The second disc is even more percussion-based, and the dreamy vocals have been abandoned. Fans of drone will still get off on the various creaks and whines that sustain throughout the songs, but these are less accessible than on the first disc. Fear not, though, there’s still beauty to be found. In the first track, “Nets of Nextoplasm”, the percussive showboating gives way to an easier, shrill synth drone that occupies the last couple minutes of the song.
Also noteworthy is the use of more tribal percussion, like the sort that opens “Awesun” (though what sounds like a cackling witch in the background may not be entirely necessary). Naturally, the percussion slows and breaks open the song, revealing a prettier, tinklier, but still droney soundscape that lasts for over 10 minutes. “Celebration” is one of the few songs where the heavy percussion lasts the whole way through and doesn’t become something more minimal. “Trust Nothing” and “Duskin Grease”, the other two songs on the second disc, are still drone-dreams.
Your Love of Music Will Play an Important Part in Your Life is a difficult album, certainly not for everyone. It’s a hard sell for those who don’t already enjoy experimental ambient music and/or drone. But for those that do, it’s two discs’ worth of bliss.