Blue-Eyed Hawk - Under the Moon
(Edition Records EDN1054. CD review by Mike Collins)
Music librarians are going to have a tough job deciding on a category for Blue-Eyed Hawk’s debut release Under the Moon. There’s an eclectic approach to music making that forges an utterly distinctive sound. By turns it grabs the listener by the throat with a pounding rock riff, then makes the heart flutter with a wispily beautiful melody before spiralling off into collectively improvised moody passages replete with eerie electronics. It should be no surprise given the individual track records of the quartet consisting of vocalist Laura Kinsella, trumpeter Laura Jurd, guitarist Alex Roth and drummer Corrie Dick, all members of the Chaos Collective as well as leaders in their own right. I’ve found the categorization job easy. The album is filed under ‘great music; put on repeat’.
The quartet have explored electronics and production techniques in the studio with Leafcutter John and Tom Herbert (of Polar Bear amongst many other projects). The collaboration has resulted in a diverse set that blends influences and techniques into layered but unfailingly arresting pieces. Somewhere could be the Wicked Witch of the West’s version of of Over the Rainbow. The guitar and drums riff that introduces it wouldn't sound out of place on a Black Sabbath album. E.Y. Harburg’s lyric is delivered with chilling menace by Kinsella, laced through with squalling scatter gun shrieks from Laura Jurd’s trumpet. After the tempest, a fleeting reference to the original tune fades into birdsong and segues into Aurora 5AM ,a lovely folky, hymn like song of affecting simplicity. Tom Herbert supplies a meaty bass riff on Spiderton with Kinsella’s vocal dexterity to the fore, first doubling a spiky trumpet riff before managing to sound fragile and assertive at the same time, draping the melody over the surging, rocky groove. A strong melody and ear tweaking hook is never far way whether its poking through the punky guitar riffs of Living in the Fast Lane or right up front on the beautiful closer Valediction.
Blue-Eyed Hawk are a formidable ensemble with the writing credits shared amongst the band. This is a very fine album.
The launch of Under the Moon is in Kings Place Hall Two on Saturday 13th September as part of the seventh Kings Place Festival.