The Philadelphia based band Hex Inverter might be relatively new to the scene, having released just their self-titled debut album before Revision, but its members have been around for a while. Comprised of Christian McKenna and Mick Mullin of experimental, post-rock outfit Empty Flowers and Randy Larsen of Cable and Slow Death (and also Empty Flowers), it is easy to predict what their take is on the rock form.
The trio is enamored with psychedelia, and the achievement of this elusive state by any means available. Using electronic processing, ambient sceneries, and applying all the experimental qualities of the rock genre, Revision is an exercise in the construction of soundscapes and dream sequencing. This has been partly the case with their previous record, but in Revision, as the title suggests, they plunge into greater depths. The work is more abstract, the psychedelic element stretched further away from the old-school ’70s methodology, and into a modernized rendition.
In opening up their sound, Hex Inverter has had some great help in the production helm, recording with Seth Manchester and Keith Souza in Machines with Magnets, the engineers behind works from artists as diverse as experimental rockers Battles, and noise/sludge connoisseurs The Body. But, apart from the guys at Machines with Magnets, Hex Inverter record their track “Fled” with Will Brookes of Dalek, an indicator of their take into the essence of experimental, psychedelic sounds and how to achieve them.
Label: Anthropic Records
Revision, with its slow start, steadily becomes a record to lose oneself in. The pace plays a big role in this illusion, unfolding in a mesmerizing manner, with its transcendental quality. The dynamics are enriched with the band remaining unfazed between the subtle and heavy parts, always retaining a hypnotizing quality, never allowing their spell to break. What really sticks out is the combination of different disciplines to achieve this happily dystopian tone, somewhere between electronic, industrial, ambient and psychedelic. It becomes a riddle – understanding where these guys stand and their take on heavy music – when you listen to tracks like “Something Else” with its noise coming with harshness, but at the same time with a sense of serenity; or in “Daphne,” with the darker and more asphyxiating aura, and the use of mechanical drumming near the end.
It is that delicacy that exists in the center of it all that makes Revision such a captivating and powerful listen. The will to be open about the influences, creating a collage of all these different sounds across the years, finding a place of convergence between it all– from the industrial harshness, the shoegaze style, Americana’s dream state– and without forgetting the early punk days that defined their formative years as musicians. Revision is more than the title of the record. Hex Inverter have gone back to their roots, revisiting and reworking their ideas and concepts about truly experimental rock music, and like great researchers, they come back to the surface with something remarkable.