A Hawk and a Hacksaw at The Workman’s Club (Review)

A-Hawk-and-A-HacksawA Hawk and a Hacksaw played Workman’s on Tuesday, the 23rd of April. Consisting of Accordionist Jeremy Barnes and violinist Heather Trost, the utterly especial flair that the duo (thusly naming their band for Cervantes), have been putting to work in their music, collaborations and live shows together since 2002 is now full and flourished. With five studio albums (one of which was used for a documentary about Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek) and one E.P., all enjoying great critical reception, the pair have certainly had opportunity to perfect their craft. Heather Trost’s influence on the second album and resulting creative input has clearly entered the band unselfconsciously into the Balkan tradition that the debut release was set against and, to a lesser degree, musically rendered through. That self-titled album was more ‘classically’ experimental – I mean, more electronic and modulated, produced with more saturation.

Desaturation means maturity in the subsequent releases. The process of this growth is in part the increasingly unconflicted relationship the music has to ‘the real thing.’ The ardent interest in Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Romanian and certainly Turkish traditional music extends to studio time in Eastern Europe and the collaboration of local musicians. The authenticity or striven-for validation is here entirely worth any sacrifices made in the realms of popular appeal or native influence. This native influence, the ideas brought to the writing that come from outside the heritage being explored, even simply the music collections or educations of the songwriters, in the same way that a book whose words have been translated out of its original language emerges with a different meaning, will inevitably stimulate the output. Nonetheless, it is a fact that ‘A Hawk and a Hacksaw’ are doing legitimately new things in their musical niches, which is a triumph over these barriers.

Kindly spoken, Heather introduced and then excused herself in order to retrieve her bow. Such challenging and potent music from such timid creatures! There was an ethereal effect to the live show, brought about by the exertion of the moment that is not available on CD or to download. Though there were whirlwind songs, the night was regulated by a downbeat ambience that is fully available, and is administered, in the spectrum of expression, the style of the two performers. It was a big day out for band geeks, and their earnest approval of the show is a good description of the mutual sincerity that is attached to the author – and listener-ship of such a band. The pair’s amiability is a better thing to connect the New Mexico accent with than Breaking Bad.

‘A Hawk and a Hacksaw’ are finishing up their tour in Nottingham and Cambridge.

A Hawk and a Hacksaw on Myspace

Review by Luke Etherton


Lucy Ivan

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