A sultry swampland of immersive melancholy, noir kissed beauty, and bewitching almost sinister drama, The Sum Of My Parts is one of the major surprises that always spring up in a year. To fans of Austrian musician Hackmonocut, album and sound is probably an evolution to an already recognised alchemy from the artist but to newcomers, as us, the release is a spellbinding and mouth-watering surprise from the shadows, one of the essential adventures of 2015.
Hackmonocut emerged in 2012, spending months writing and creating his distinctive yet at times enjoyably familiar tapestry of sound and shadow bred emotion. Debut album, In The Land Of Basement Hobby Rooms, was released in 2013 and swiftly lured potent attention and praise which its single Virgin Suicide Bomber sparked to stronger effect. Whilst making the video for the track, Hackmonocut formed a live band whilst studio recordings as with the new album, remained a predominantly solo project. Now it is the darker presence and incitement of The Sum Of My Parts to seduce fiercer spotlights, which such its soulful power and haunting seduction it surely will.
The album opens with We Better Look Away and a scuzzy wash of riffs and tangy guitar tempting around dulled but concussive rhythms. Quickly there is a psych rock spicing oozing from the raw air, especially once the vocals of Hackmonocut begin pouring narrative and melancholy. The song equally has a punkish snarl to its reserved but invitingly swinging stroll, Doors meets sixties garage rock orchestrated by The Jazz Butcher a simple but potent description to the character and magnetic hues of the excellent start to the album.
Things turned much darker with Now which from its first breath slowly invades and blossoms in ears and imagination with its sorrowful elegance and imposing theatre. Gentle but rich hooks and melodies emerge and sparkle in the dark corners of the track whilst the dirtier fuzz lined play of the guitars entwines with emerging drama cast by the strings and ukulele of Mr. Woolph, who also play in the live band, across the absorbing landscape. There is a definite Echo and The Bunnymen air to the song also, one also embracing Nick Cave essences, both flavours which return in varying degrees across the album but only colours to something with its own identity and voice.
The excellent Used Love rips the air next, a garage punk seeded snarl of a song growling round the ever riveting tones of Hackmonocut. This time a sense of artists like Inca Babies and Pete Wylie come to mind as the track twists and turns on a spiral of sound, energy, and invention. It is like a hex on the imagination, just as irresistible as the following Dead Born Sister. The new single, released the same day as the album, is noir cast seduction which glows with beauty and a tormented soul as it captivate ears and thoughts with its sublime craft and inescapable and tenaciously dark hug. Once more Nick Cave is an easy comparison, as also that of The Mission, but once more the man creates a unique croon painting a lingering sound and picture which breeds only addiction fuelled reactions.
The Ripper (Gimme Back My Love) follows with a similar tone to its dark smouldering of emotion and gothic hues. Blessed with the contrasting warm harmonies of Ella against the grainy tones of Hackmonocut, the song flickers and glows like a fire in the night, guitar and bass the eventful sparking in the shadow of the tribal rhythms additionally lit by flames of voices. Strings again add richer drama and potency to just one more peak in the increasingly impressing release.
Through the mesmeric dolor of Scarlet and the distorted scuzziness of Leech, the album continues to enthral, the first enslaving with its fascinating heartbreak through word and sound and the second with a harsher climate of blues and psych rock accompanied by mellow but flirtatious piano. Both, without quite matching those before them, grip attention and appetite before Love Letter slips into Doors meets Helldorado lamentation and soon after, to close up the album, Days Of Roses takes the listener on a flight of sweltering balladry and lost souls. Both simply transfix but the final track is pure dark seduction with grit in its attitude and tempestuousness in its air.
The Sum Of My Parts has an intimacy to it as potent as the resonating sounds shaping its body but also carries broader reflections across songs which, as the album itself, only grow and involve the listener more with every listen. This is a must for all dark rock ‘n’ roll and gothic rock fans, for those with a taste of any of the references mentioned, and really a treat for anyone which loves great dark music.
The Sum Of My Parts is available from August 14th.