// BARK PSYCHOSIS ‘HEX’ LP
Formed in 1986 by East London school friends Graham Sutton and John Ling, Bark Psychosis started as a teenage band into 1980s hardcore noise practitioners such as Sonic Youth, Napalm Death, Big Black, and Swans. However, after the permanent addition to the line-up of Mark Simnett and Daniel Gish, the band released a succession of EPs and singles between 1988 and 1992 over which they found their own sound veering towards a more restrained and experimental style, similar to the path taken by latter day Talk Talk and AR Kane, which included elements of free-jazz, ambient, sampling, and programming. It was a fascinating evolution that peaked during the arduous recording of their first LP, which took most of 1993. Released the following year, Hex features eight tracks with perfect dynamics individually and as a whole. The music manages to sound loose and tight at the same time, and although the instrumentation is varied (vibraphone, trumpet, flute, and djembe players plus a string quartet joined the band), the approach is succinct and every element reaches a powerful effect. The mood is tense, solemn and emotionally-charged, but the album feels comforting and engaging. The concise vocals, while not following any kind of verse and chorus structure, fit hauntingly within these brilliantly structured tracks and the captivating development of the LP culminates in the outstanding ambient ten minutes of "Pendulum Man." Hex prompted journalist Simon Reynolds to mention the term "post-rock" in its review of the album, thus creating a label that would be used in the following years to describe the music of other contemporary bands such as Tortoise, Disco Inferno, Labradford, Laika, and others. However, Bark Psychosis didn't get to enjoy the relative media attention this new scene received. Gish had left the band during the recording of the album and Ling parted after it was finished. Released in the early spring of 1994 and almost 20 years after its conception, Hex remains one of the lost great records of the '90s. The experience of listening to it is as extremely rewarding as ever. On 180 gram vinyl.