I shared the first single from this magnificent breakthrough LP a couple months back, but my anticipation never waned. Luckily, it seems well placed: Union and Return soars like the disembodied wings on its fantastical cover art, all weird texture and glistening uplift.
Torn Hawk, aka Luke Wyatt, has been on my radar since 2013, when I heard a strange, atmospheric tune called Born to Win (Life After Ghostbusters). It was a 15 minute guitar-driven vaporwave epic, sounding like nothing I’d really heard before. I was obsessed, looping it for days. But I faked myself out; the guy hasn’t made music that sounded like that ever since. Instead, he’s kept innovating and shapeshifting, evolving into the quasi-motivational artist who crafted the humble magnum opus pictured above.
Union and Return pulses with midi-fired classical instrumentation, a live wire take on the sort of elegant spiritual sound that Mark Hollis and Talk Talk spent years perfecting. Instead of the ostensibly rock format of this forebear, Torn Hawk’s songs come together in the structure of dance music, adding layers of gossamer beauty over subtly looping beats. Soaring string sections are pierced with electric guitar, disembodied female vocals float by like seagulls over a cliff, and sudden bass throbs shake the mix to its core.
The album sits at a strange crossroads of avant garde instrumentation and street-level accessibility, making for an enlightening but easygoing listen. It’s thoughtful, deliberate music made with an eye for enjoyment by just about anyone.
Here’s the first single, Feeling is Law.
The album comes courtesy of Mexican Summer, the label founded by Oneohtrix Point Never himself, Daniel Lopatin.