Lawrence English and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart come together as HEXA for a collaborative project inspired by a recurring dream from English’s childhood.
Room40 head honcho Lawrence English and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart make music together as HEXA, coming together for the first time back in 2015 under the auspices of none other than David Lynch, who commissioned the pair to create an hour-long performance for an exhibition of his ‘Factory Photographs’. United in a “joint investigation into the physiological and psychological impacts of vibration,” the latest project from HEXA is a reflection on recurring dreams and uneasy sleep, accompanied with a visual that draws influence from Shinya Tsukamoto’s 1989 film Tetsuo: The Iron Man. “When I was child I had two recurring dreams,” explains English. “Both these dreams were tethered to the house I lived in. It was a rambling home which was high set but underneath it was largely unfinished. The underside of the house was a labyrinth of small rooms, concrete pits and a collection of building materials, piping and leftover furniture sat alongside beds of dirt that had a consistency of lunar dust.”
“The first recurring dream was of a burning bird, falling from the sky past the kitchen window in the early hours of the morning. The bird I’m pretty sure was some devolved version of a tabernacle candle, that shape of the twisted eternal flame often symbolised with twitching wings. This dream has never returned to me as an adult, though I can vividly recount it. The second dream has recently emerged, albeit a distant hazy reference to the tangible intensity that I experienced when I was younger. This dream was one buried deep within the labyrinthian, unfinished features that existed under my house. The dream usually started with me playing on the lunar dirt and gradually a sound would emerge from a large concrete pit that was in the centre of the space. The sound would get louder and eventually I would have to go and inspect it. It called me in, there’s no other way to describe it.”
“As I looked into the pit, there was always some kind of hatch, often resembling a pressure door, the type you might see in a submarine film, and the sound would emanate from underneath that hatch. It was also a throbbing, hammering type of sound, deeply diminished and buried, like hearing bass music from a car parked up the block. Inevitably, I would twist open the hatch and inside it was a mechanical world that today brings to mind the interior psyche of Tetsuo The Iron Man. It was dark, almost entirely duotone, shaded in heavy grey and black, and wet with a thick, humid, oil like moisture. As I climbed into the hatch and down the ladder (there was always a ladder too) the pressure of the sound increased and it was as if my whole body was being consumed by this monolithic subterranean machine.”
“I never got to understand what the machine did, or if in fact it was a machine at all, the system was never revealed, but what I was made to feel was that there was something beyond my usual understanding that forged away night and day and was infinitely more powerful and commanding than I ever could comprehend. I was surprised that, over the past year, this dream has returned to me. Perhaps it’s a result of the general quieting of the world and that innate way our ears can open up to even the most subtle acoustic shifts when we are sleeping. Remote sounds, usually hidden in the din of the urban nightscape, were filtering into my dreams and triggering some kind of speculative consciousness. This post-hypnagogic state ushered in a return to that imagined place from my childhood dreams, but simultaneously I was never allowed full access to that place, rather it felt more reserved. I could not enter it in the same way, even if the hatch was there, I was not the same mind and could not unlock it in the same way.”
“Last year, I mentioned this dream to Jamie, and he too reported unsteady sleep patterns. This got us to thinking about how the dynamics of the world have recently shifted towards the emergence of the natural world. Equally though it has shifted in favour of its shadow; those ongoing industrial, mechanical and other acoustic by-products of human (and unhuman) labour reach out from the hushed ambient noise floor. What is usually soaked up in the everyday (sub)urbanscape has been exhumed and in these particular moments it haunts us from a distance, an exterior force that unlocks interior uncertainties. This music is transposed of this experience and is written for those moments were consciousness is arguably speculative.”
Material Interstices is out now, on Room40, where you can find more projects from HEXA. You can find Lawrence English on Instagram.