Mankind and Destiny – Tash Hagz (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Wonky isn’t the same as broken. Off-kilter doesn’t mean out of control. Oddball isn’t a bad thing. Unfashionable is better than faddish…and then again if you get good at being unfashionable then you generally end up becoming a cult figure anyway, which is sort of the same thing. Just because you are on the outside doesn’t mean that you couldn’t find the door to come in from the cold…some people prefer it out there. Tash Hagz in general, and his latest single in particular, are all of those things…the former bits, not the latter.

Mankind and Destiny is one of those unplaceable songs. It is genre-fluid, it identifies only as Hagz-esque. In an age of people doing their own thing, celebrating the difference, going their own way, Tash Hagz makes perfect art and and if being different is the new conforming, this latest single is so out of step that it is a statement in and of itself. It is so wrong it is right. So right.

From its clunky and clattering rhythms to its nursery rhyme lilt and kindergarten sonics, which seem to effervesce between the more grounded grooves, it immediately puts you in mind of bands such as Wasuremono only with the oriental graphic novel feeling replaced by a strange 80’s alt-pop vibe – a nod to the likes of Sparklehorse, a healthy dash of Mercury Rev (and when is their music not a heady, healthy restorative) and, most unexpected of all, no small helping of Karl Jenkin’s otherworldly Adiemus harmonies woven in behind. And on immediate reflection, the fact that such references exist in the same sentence is surprising even to me. And I wrote it. Unexpected music makes you write unexpected lines I guess! Hurrah!

It’s a riot of musical colour, a sonic explosion, a Day-Glo symphony and if like me your only exposure to T. Hagz Esq. so far has been via the more melancholic and drifting Images of Imogen, it comes as quite a change of direction. But gamuts are their to be run, sonic space exists to be explored and taken together the two songs make for a very intriguing pairing. Either song, standing alone, is a beguiling enough prospect, taken together and you marvel not only at the imagination from which these songs have sprung but what might also exist in the sonic space between. It’s like when you start a jigsaw and connect the pieces which make the borders first and realise that as colourful and confusing as those pieces might be, they are only a fraction of the full picture. 

Now imagine doing that without having the picture on the box to use as a reference. Image just stepping out into the, as yet unexplored, province of Hagzland and exploring it one beguiling piece of the sonic puzzle at a time never knowing what might emerge before your eyes …well, ears…next?

Now that is a truly exciting prospect.

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