If you’re familiar with labels like Not Not Fun and L.I.E.S., you probably came across Luke Wyatt’s videos before you heard his own music. Recording as Torn Hawk for the last few years the Brooklyn-based multimedia artist was earlier most known for his avant-garde clips for DIY house artists such as Mi Ami and Steve Summers. Using a technique he calls video mulch Wyatt blends found footage with cuts from popular films and scenes recorded by the artist himself. You could always sense an ironic approach in Wyatt’s visuals but his LP feels on the contrary – candid and emotional.
Let’s Cry And Do Pushups At The Same Time released via Mexican Summer perfectly reflects the emotional landscape painted by Torn Hawk throughout the album’s eight songs. Wyatt wrote his third full-length without a single vocal sample but the music speaks for itself. You may approach the LP’s bizarre title as a metaphor of human life – a lengthy journey full of ups and downs accompanied by our inner states clashing inside our head. Torn Hawk composed his new release mostly with the live guitar and using occasional samples and distorted synths merely as background themes. Beats are few and far between provoking you to perceive Torn Hawk’s puzzling jams as a score to your own thoughts. The dominating electric guitar gives the compositions a spacious and spectral edge with sounds crossing ways through the extensive use of all sorts of hazy effects.
Torn Hawk’s soundscapes reminds me to some extent of Mark McGuire‘s length wandering New Age tracks. Wyatt’s take is more rhythmical and less droney but retains a similar flair for huge amounts of space. My favorite on the LP is ‘Return to The Pec Deck’ – a track that sets off with a sound similar to church bells drowned in delay. All of a sudden a beat kicks in and the guitar cascades accelerate into a progressive track that could be a Jean-Michael Jarre back in the eighties composing futuristic tracks fueled by his enthusiasm about the latest developments in modern technology. It’s that joyful phase of the album when Torn Hawks lifts you up but will make you dive into melancholy later on.
‘She Happens’ brings back memories of Wyatt’s beautiful synth jams such as ‘Born To Win (Life After Ghostbusters)‘ published via L.I.E.S. over a year ago. It’s this romantic guise of Torn Hawk I like most, which shows his escapist side. You can feel this astral touch in ‘Afterprom’, a celestial tune that gives peace of mind although Torn Hawk’s guitar cuts the airwaves like a sabre. The album’s emotional character strikes a similar chord as ‘Channel Pressure’, the LP by Ford & Lopatin (the latter curates Mexican Summer) from 2011 where analogue synths evoked the same eighties’ retro feel like one built by Torn Hawk through his constant overdrive of the guitar always searching for endless layers of polyphony.
Let’s Cry And Do Pushups At The Time strikes me as a life-affirming dreamer’s manifesto that shows Torn Hawk as a seasoned and independent producer. Wyatt gazes at us from the cover of his LP wrapped up in a cocoon-like dark piece of fabric. The enigmatic look on his face seems to encourage us to embrace our reality with courage but also humility.
Let’s Cry And Do Pushups At The Same Time is out now via Mexican Summer, order a vinyl copy from their web-store.