The phrase power duo has never been truer. If math rock is but a Frankenstein's monster like creation then Emar has made graveyard scraps not only presentable, but iridescently beautiful.
Seemingly pulling a new kind of time out of time, Evan Marien X Dana Hawkins is surreally supernatural in affecting history. All the while preaching a new poised approach, the outfit’s style is distilled, extracted, fermented and boiled into a singularity. One can perceive this statement as the last song ever written, which contains all previous human musical accomplishments and paradoxically, none.
Though it’s impossible not to listen and recite back names like, Jaco Pastorius, Richard Bona, Aaron Spears, and Spanky Mccurdy, the combination delivered here has never been brewed this well. Insurmountably perfected, palatable jazz fusion emerges like pure alchemical philosopher’s gold after ages of refinement.
While in the past, jazz fusion had grown stagnant and was slowly solidifying into high pitched electric guitar musical masturbation, the duo redefine the rule of law, veering jazz into an orthogonal turn towards uncharted territory. Something had to be done, and instinctively they took hold of the road map such as to realign jazz to current day culture-consciousness.
Combining extensive fret board knowledge, a well-traveled ear, and that extra undefinable magic, Multi instrumentalist and composer Evan Marien is more a voice than a bassist as he enters all musical moments. The addition of world class drummer Dana Hawkins dictates where to find the answers you’ve been looking for: deep in the pocket.
Always laying down some of the most intellectually stimulating and signature musical narration, one can’t help but fall into an utter trance following only a few fluttering bass notes. Equally emotive and brimming with moments of contention, transparent harmonizing paints a portrait of heaven on Earth.
Dynamic range is at the forefront here, as poetic extensions branch off of every note. All the while birthing transcendence of body, mind and spirit, meaning is intuitively immediate and ceaselessly cohesive in its dialogue. The tracks construct an unintended video game music library which are, by their nature, futuristic.
Phrased with brilliance, precision and extra care, fractal-based drumming patterns really stir the directional tides of songs. Constantly intermingling rhythmic rates creates richness, depth, and controlled explosions more akin to a festive firework than metronomic guidance. Answering the illustrative scenic playing of Evan with a grand mutually open presence, Hawkins creates a soulmate-like meeting space.
Dana’s gradation in rhythm is frenetic and exhibits locomotive fluidity. He brings musicality to feeling, knowing when to lay back or rain down a bombardment of quicker-paced hot sauce beats. With a superb economy of motion, the beats utilize accent displacement, phrasing permutation, harmonic subdivision layering and the phenomenal funk we find in the top church-grown pop outfits.
A frail attempt to define such mastery would sound something like a recipe of new wave aesthetics, early hip-hop soul, modern jazz genetics and character. Add gospels grace in the belly of the beast and you still haven’t truly defined Marien x Hawkin’s powerful presence. Softened yet aggressive contrasts keep the listener aware and forever in motion. Dance is inevitable as is sheer astonishment.
Now does Evan Marien x Dana Hawkins relate to math rock or is this one big romanticized idolatry? Is there a point?
The newest song, "Wave Existence" proves the process lives on as the pop validity and jazz sensibilities exponentially expand beneath the sonic bliss of its melody. This track enables confoundment to arise as the pop and jazz dichotomy that was beforehand causally linked, is now seeking constant attention. The unfortunate balancing act now seems to be freed of its duties. "Wave Existence" holds nothing back while introducing a more post-rock soundscape to the already stacked list of influence and tools.
Songs like "Sweatn" utilize 5:4 quarter time grooves a la Garibaldi, even as they're thrown in metric impositions of 6, 7, 9; Dana’s mannerism are very linear and flamboyantly in your face. The bass solo held within the center of this piece is by far my favorite moment in musical history.
The hybridized cut "Encore" is transcendental by fusing disco, latin, and new school funk. Falling into a true 8 over 12 type feel, the impositions by both members have a wide ranging reach.
The interpretation of late guitarist Allan Holdsworth’s tune "Looking Glass" displays genius and unadulterated chemistry. With ambiguous time and some of the hippest dynamical grids in the scene,"Looking Glass" is another timeless gem.
"The Eldridge" may be in 4 but don’t let that fool you. The songs' abstracted take on electronic music and dub-step is a human athletic jungle gym of chops and wholeness. Cutting in impositions from any aperture, the track is likely the most concrete example of modern instrumentation with flavorful, mature intent.
As an honorable mention, "Renaissance," with Virgil Donatti on drums, is a 7:4 power house which further explores odd time signatures. The drums start with 5 over 7 and morph into a compounded 7:4 with what most agree is Evan Marien's best display of walking bass lines up to date. It would be quite interesting to see Dana’s take on such a spicy composition.
With that being said, this is a project that can not be overlooked as you would be losing out on the street signs leading us into a more musically full and wholesome arena. Don’t get left behind, invest your time in listening to Evan Marien x Dana Hawkins.