Cry and do pushups at the same time with Torn Hawk
Torn Hawk makes music that is the sonic equivalent of cut-and-paste. He takes bits and pieces of other tunes and repurposes them, flattens them out and spins them next to something completely different. With his layered guitars using these foundations, his songs climb and rise with a purpose, each one becoming a lofty structure, the album a metropolis.
It really is computer music. The instrumental sounds within his latest album Let’s Cry and Do Pushups at the Same Time, couldn’t have been made on any other instrument (aside from the guitar parts), the beeps, blops and beats reminiscent of slightly outdated hardware. But it’s the flatness that is truly fascinating. Torn Hawk is also a visual artist, creating mashed up video works that combine kitsch 80s films, pornography and photoshopped images of himself, all recorded onto scratchy VHS tape. His music is the same thing, only audio. This flatness of sound doesn’t mean it’s thin and tinny though; in fact it’s full and lush, synth builds open up into amazing guitar lines, with so many intricate moving parts each song sounds like a small perpetual motion machine.
There are lots of influences worn proudly through LCADPATST, but the one that stands out the most to me is krautrock. From the bouncing and shuffling beats to the open, wide scales and intervals between notes, Harmonia, La Dusseldorf and Kraftwerk all appear in the lineage somewhere.
This dichotomy between computer/technological music and the flat cassette tape sound is made stronger through that kraut influence. Those acts were always about pushing music to its extremes, looking far ahead of the curve and making realistically futuristic music. Now Torn Hawk combines that ethos into a two-faced style; one gazing to the past for influence, the other to the future for inspiration. Because the two are distinct. Influence comes from what’s been done before, it shows what’s possible within the limitations. Inspiration can come from anywhere; a walk at sunset, a dog playing, a computer booting up. Torn Hawk balances the two perfectly, pulling the sounds of the past through a modern piece of technology, before squashing it onto some outdated medium. Then, of course, the music is digitalised again, for consumption and propagation.
This crossing of mediums is central to the songs on LCADPATST. They are both digital beings, existing as music does now on hard-drives and Clouds. But they sound old, as if created long before the technology that contains them. Torn Hawk’s music is niche, but’s a niche I’m glad is filled.