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Hexlove/Faulouah Free Jazz From Slavery 2LP
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Weird-007 Hexlove/Faulouah - Free Jazz From Slavery 2LP

If one were dim enough to go about explaining the new double LP from Hexlove/Faulouah by pointing up parallels between it and the future-thinking music which has surely influenced its creator, I imagine the task wouldn’t be too daunting. One may first notice that Free Jazz From Slavery is awash in the sublimely complex percussion patterns of 20th century composers like Harry Partch, Eugene Kurtz, and Iannis Xenakis. Or one might wonder if Zac Nelson, the man in the cockpit of this thing, hadn’t been listening to Another Green World since he was in the womb. And certainly it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the jibing spirit of early-eighties Pere Ubu experimentation is all over the more flippant efforts like Don’t Say I Didn’t Warm Yah and the watery blurb that opens the record, Aztec vs. Dolphin.

This, though, is the wrong way to go about listening to or talking about any of Hexlove/Faulouah’s work. Musical ancestors are worn proudly on Nelson’s sleeve, but as eagerly as he celebrates them, he also delights in taking them, along with himself, down a peg. The snarky punning of the album’s title, the faux-shamanic chanting and cooing, the deliberately murked-up and buzzing arrangements all belie an agenda that involves not only a glad embrace of the less austere reaches of avant-gardism but a pointed critique of its elitism and intellectual posturing. Tracks like the doom-laden Lots of Wings Carry Seeds, which pulses like the metabolism of some slumbering extinct beast, display a staggering sense of grey beauty but are quickly undercut when Nelson begins to take a more blithe and self-deprecating tack. This, though, is not to the record’s detriment; it never falls into mere novelty or self-parody. The sheer technical brilliance, evident on every track, earns quite a big spot on Nelson’s cheek to put his tongue in. The most glorious moments, though, are those in which he is able to marry these two tendencies, as on the desperate and busy Grump up the Volume, which opens the second side of the first record. And this is just the first record.

All doubts that may have been lingering about Nelson’s seriousness or capabilities vanish completely after even the most cursory listen to the second record. Alone it is a startlingly focused and beautiful ambient masterwork, but it shines all the more when it is coupled with the chaos of the first record. The long, breathing pieces are tranquil and meditative yet never naive or on the look-out for a place in The New Age. Under every track, however spare and delicate, lurks an anxiety that constantly threatens to swallow all delusions of well-being. Though it drones and broods, it is never without texture. Alive with the haunting organ of Exits Very Damp or the subtle xylophone flourishes of Big Happy Lotus, it manages to maintain a clean, coherent spirit without becoming sterile or devolving into massage music. The sidelong closer and centerpiece of the album, Psychopomp, though, is as sparse and heavenly as music gets, but it still attains such a raw human beauty that after you hear it, the last thing you want to do is lie down for a massage. Rather, you want to run out and find the human who created it and thank him. —Steve Rodgers

Artwork by Zach Nelson & friends.
Limited to 500 copies on green and orange vinyl with full color gatefold jackets.

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HEXLOVE Want To Be Nice CD
Weird-HCD HEXLOVE - Want To Be Nice CD

Hey, sometimes everything gets a little too much and the ol' nostrils feel constricted and the stomach feels empty and inside out. "Just step out of it (like a transparent sphere)." "I was always told to use a warm towel." However. What is this Hexlove sh*t is doing to me right now? Putting me on the ropes, yo. West Coasting Zac Nelson double-doses and lifts this rump roast with layers of sprite-like bliss wafting; a come-and-go series of ghosts over spans of time then in fact here comes a complete cosmic sine-flute journey. I don't know, maybe Vangelis and Klaus Schulze get fed each other's good vibes and then, oh yeah, the realness of the sound and a weight or extreme heaviness. Walls, sheets, large tarps of these "good vibes" get spun by a sampler dish of Sunroof-esque absolute hum'n'burn clatter, completely searing, straight-up whopper, and somewhere around the near edge of celestial submerged polyorchestral non-existence emersion into microshard peaks of looping bucolic, stoney walk-on-the-water synth(?) fragment melody permeation you eventually, no matter where you are you're pretty much lost in a mellow excitement/familiar space "I think someone whispered my name"-type deal. All the mentioned unfolds in one 39 minute track. Loren Shimanek

Artwork by Zac Nelson and Elizabeth Mahoney.
Limited to 500 copies in tip-on style gatefold jackets.

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