Tape Review: HAWN’s ‘For a Ride’


For a Ride

(Strategic Tape Reserve)

The Coen brothers are visited by the ghosts of Hunter S. Thompson, Albert Camus, and Alan Vega. Hunter says to the boys, “Hey, let’s go for a ride”. Albert says, “Why not? Maybe stuff will happen”. Alan says, “We can make some spooky weird bleep-bloop music about it”.

They hop into the ’71 Eldorado in the dead of night, loaded up with mescaline pellets, and embark on a road trip through small town America. The people and happenings are twisted, absurd, and ordinary. They can’t tell what’s the mescaline and what’s reality. It’s all the same. Reality is what you perceive it to be. Morning never comes. It just gets darker, and warps further, until their minds, the crux of the very universe, are slowly eroded by the psychotropics, or the digital apocalypse, or the small, pointless, heartbreaking interactions between people.

HAWN’s For a Ride sounds like this, and more to the point, electronic Americana where the face of America is melting away and all that’s left is the raw code. John Craun’s layered synth soundscapes blur the lines between glitch pop and no wave, while Micheal Jeffrey Lee’s sung-spoken falsetto vocals work desperately to wring emotion out of lyrics written like prose from The Stranger: cold, blunt, slightly cryptic philosophical observations, mostly pertaining to mortality. You’ll find the reading of wills, the discovery of decapitated bodies, narrations from cadavers, conversations with men who wished they’d spent their time differently, etc. The surreal and mundane bleed into each other until they’re completely indistinguishable.

For a Ride is deeply unsettling, much in the way No Country For Old Men or Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop” is. It’s also deeply fascinating and deeply addicting. Craun’s production is pristine, Jeffrey Lee’s folktales are haunting, and together they make for an incredibly powerful anthology of narratives and scores that peel back the flesh of humanity and parse through the zeroes and ones that make us tick.


Favorite tracks: “Still Above the Ground”, “King”, “Cody Matthews”


Rating: Essential


You can purchase HAWN’s For a Ride here.

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