CD review by Tony Smith
The prolific Pete Hawkes produced this short album to express some opinions about the musical world.
To an extent, there is nothing that unusual in the paradox that dead composers get played much more than living ones.
The same happens in the art world, where the works of painters skyrocket in value after they die.
So it is not clear that music is the only industry where death is your best career move.
Nevertheless, the idea prompted Hawkes to write some music for dead souls.
With the aid of Phil Emmanuel on guitar, Gareth Skinner on cello and Louise Woodward on violins and viola, Hawkes produced an instrumental work which has some classical references and resonances.
Hawkes has a sense of humour about this music and says that at least no joker is going to ask him to play ‘House of the Rising Sun’.
On a serious note, Hawkes mentions musicians who died too young.
He lists Danny Gatton, Roy Buchanan, Eva Cassidy and Nick Drake.
Drake attracted a post-mortem cult following.
Hawkes dedicates the album especially to such ‘lost souls’.
Sadly, Phil Emmanuel was lost to the musical world when he died during an asthma attack in 2018.
Ironically perhaps, he was honoured posthumously with an Order of Australia Medal.
He had played with many renowned Australian and international musicians in the rock and country styles and had been inducted into the Australian Roll of Renown at Tamworth.
The ‘Requiem for the Lost Souls Entwined’ takes the form of a midnight concert in the graveyard for the dead.
In Part 1, a prelude, the lost souls awake to music and rise from their graves.
Part 2 is the Graveyard Concert.
In Part 3, the lost souls dance.
Part 4 is a ‘spooky interlude’.
Part 5 is Emmanuel’s electric encore and Part 6 has Pete’s farewell to the lost souls.
Then there is a reprise in which the concert ends and the lost souls return to their graves.
The guitar techniques here are well chosen with some slack guitar, plenty of vibrato and the wailing effect of sliding the right hand.
Rapid changes in pitch, tempo and volume increase the feeling of strangeness.
At times, the music feels as though there is a deal of improvisation over the basic chords.
At others, particularly where the cello and strings are prominent, it seems tightly scripted.
The album cover has shades of blue, black and grey, reminiscent of a moonlit cemetery, with swirling mists and spooky atmosphere.
The word that springs to mind is ‘gothic’.