Multi-instrumentalist Xian Hawkins played with electronic-rock pioneers Silver Apples when they reunited in the mid-’90s. Although that looks good on a résumé, the reformation didn’t produce much worthwhile music, save for 1998’s Decatur. But since that brush with faded legend Simeon, Hawkins has had a prolific solo career, most notably 2000’s Musicforafilm. That disc’s title telegraphs Hawkins’ forte: evoking vivid and emotion-laden images with sound.

That talent blooms again on Nonument. Over the disc’s ten subtle songs, Hawkins paints in impressionistic watercolors (mostly in muted burgundies, blue-grays and ochers) with help from a trumpeter, a cellist and two vocalists. The cinematically resonant opening track, “Secropia,” sets the beautifully melancholic tone, but it’s the least typical of Nonument‘s approach; the mantric shimmer of vibes suggests Terry Riley’s In C set within a chamber-rock framework. More typical is “Water,” which resembles the Sea and Cake’s suave lounge pop, but with more rhythmic girth. Whatever style Hawkins attempts, though, he imbues every composition with superb arranging skills, a laptop savant’s aptitude for digital textures and a soundtrackist’s ear for tuneful poignancy.

Categories: Music