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H E X Cast Modernist Magic On Their Debut

hex

While I generally agree with the staff of Current Affairs in their assertion that modern architecture makes the world a more unpleasant place to live in, I can’t deny how brutalism does have its own twisted appeal. Imposing concrete slabs with no windows may not make for comfortable living spaces, but they do serve a function as harsh public art. Looking at a building like Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center in Chicago has the same cathartic effect as listening to a chilling metal record. It is a way of looking the oppressive darkness of modern life in the face.

But if you happen to live in a place that’s actually pleasing to look at, there are other ways to evoke that sensation without traveling to a rectangular nightmare. In fact, Geneva’s HEX (stylized as: H E X) are happy to provide you with a sense of looming modernist dread in the form of their debut self-titled album. Stream the full album below.

The key to Hex’s brutalist power is their approach to repetition. This isn’t the organic comping of improvisational music, or the steady development of post-rock; Hex’s repetition is cold and methodical. Hex pulls off the neat trick of seeming both manmade and inhuman. The band’s approach to rhythm is all straight lines and hard angles, as if they’d measured out their songs with a protractor. An insistent synthesized hums along underneath these sharp edges is which gives the material a mechanical quality. Once the band flips the switch on each of the four songs, it feels like the only thing that could stop them is the power going out or a manual override. The weight of Hex’s compositions reduces all of their instruments into a single engine where guitars and bass feel like an extension of the drum kit.

This doesn’t mean that Hex lack for human muscle. On the contrary, there are moments on Hex, particularly on the aptly named “Collider,” where they sound like an alternate universe Swans where Michael Gira went for black trenchcoats and Matrix sunglasses instead of cowboy hats and sun-worship. It’s just that Hex doesn’t rely on raw force alone, they know that persistence can be just as brutal and effective.

Follow Hex on Facebook. Hex will be released on May 25th by Hummus Records.

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