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Artist
Mark Hawkins
ReleaseProduct
The New Normal
Label
Houndstooth
Catalogue Number
5060845320379
Release Date
September 24, 2021
  • Vinyl 2×LP, Limited Coloured

    $34.49

    Transparent vinyl

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    • + WAV / FLAC

    HTH149

    • Mastered and cut by Tim Xavier at Manmade Mastering, Berlin
  • CD

    $14.49
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    HTH149CD

    • Limited edition
    • Gatefold sleeve

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Genres

Coming through as a producer in the early 2000s, nothing much seemed normal. The whirlwind of 90s dance music innovation had given way to a lack of focus, with increasingly innovative and accessible technology making the sounds heard on dance-floors more eclectic but at the same time the parties had started to feel less inspired, as if it was too hard to keep hold of the magic that had swirled around us for the last 10 years.

Against this backdrop, Mark Hawkins immediately stood out by how grounded he was compared to most of the space cadets floundering with their musical calling. Watching one of his staggeringly raw live sets, ripping up the floor with a combination of jacking Chicago house and bare bones techno was to see a pragmatic idealist carving out a unique space, unashamed to reference his inspirations with humour and bombast.

It was perhaps inevitable that Mark’s boundless spirit would see him push through the barriers of the UK’s more experimental audiences to gain greater presence with his entrance to a more underground House sound. Releases followed on Dixon Avenue Basement Jams and Clone before arriving on Houndstooth, blending together House and Techno in a way that reached for the sky even while their roots were clearly planted firmly in the ground. Whilst always tough-as-painted-nails, the music progressed from being identifiable through its keen rawness to displaying increasing sophistication.

During a lost year that’s been anything but normal, it’s no surprise that Mark has dug deeper, gathering his influences and ideals into a more experimental, yet relevant and cohesive whole. The Twelve tracks on this new album represent a blossoming of Mark’s creativity; freed from the constraints of immediate dance-floor delivery they explore new territory, rampaging over a landscape of electro-funk, body-rocking house, experimental electronica, euphoric pop and reflective chill out all underpinned by his accomplished melodic sensibility.

Opening track Can’t Let You Do This sets the tone perfectly, so stridently optimistic it will surely become a staple of 2021’s (hopefully) unstoppable deluge of summer parties, whether they’re held in fields to an audience of thousands or in the kitchen of a one-bedroom flat. 100 Percent’s dreamy, delayed vocals and classic House riffs are simply joyous, whilst the disco flavoured ‘No One Can Find Us’ demonstrates a twisted sound design that wickedly plays with perception & emotions. Lazy Sunday’s cheeky organ stabs and You Bring The Sunshine’s woozy melodies both revel in sun-drenched possibilities of a summer spent forgetting the past year’s hardships.

Elsewhere, the atmosphere draws on the reflection that long periods of relative isolation has bestowed on us all. I AM’s subtle acid riff and synth drones evoke personal eyes-closed dance-floor revelations. Title track The New Normal is achingly beautiful, promising hope and succour to weary bedroom ravers and desk-workers who’ve forsaken their weekend release, whilst Second Born features a hazy vocal sample from Hawkins’ own daughter, phasing through panoramic, muted hoover bass then breaking into a grainy broken beat drop before returning with the subtlest of buried melodies, opening up a new emotional vista. Conversely, Never Stopped Loving You’s has a consistent pulse, benevolently imbued with a real sense of longing, a yearning for sanctuary in the nocturnal city street lights.

But there are other moments that perhaps point us towards a different future for Mark’s music. Shape The Way You Compromise marries Soca rhythms with merciless bass tones and staccato acid bleeps, chewing up echoes of West London broken-beat via stuttering IDM styled edits.

And then leading the charge away from the old ways and into the new is Let It Slide, his second collaboration with Jamie Lidell (following 2018’s “We Should Be Free”) that tears up the rulebook. Beat’s stumble and stutter, resolving in angular B-boy grooves while the bass line sounds like it’s being slapped out by a P Funk-addicted robotic jackhammer. In its sheer disregard for musical conventions, it reprises Lidell’s previous work with Cristian Vogel in their genre-destroying freakbeat combo, Super_Collider, and perfectly sums up an album that challenges what ‘normal’ from now on should be.

Written by: Paul Gannaway.

Digital Track List

  1. 1 Can't Let You Do This Mark Hawkins 3:46 Buy

    Can't Let You Do This

  2. 2 Second Born Mark Hawkins 4:20 Buy
  3. 3 100 Percent Mark Hawkins 5:55 Buy
  4. 4 Shape the Way You Compromise Mark Hawkins 5:29 Buy

    Shape the Way You Compromise

  5. 5 No One Can Find Us Mark Hawkins 3:41 Buy

    No One Can Find Us

  6. 6 Lazy Sunday Mark Hawkins 5:16 Buy
  7. 7 You Bring the Sunshine Mark Hawkins 6:22 Buy

    You Bring the Sunshine

  8. 8 I AM Mark Hawkins 5:55 Buy
  9. 9 Never Stopped Loving U Mark Hawkins 7:03 Buy

    Never Stopped Loving U

  10. 10 Let It Slide Mark Hawkins featuring Jamie Lidell 3:46 Buy
  11. 11 The New Normal Mark Hawkins 5:48 Buy

    The New Normal

  12. 12 SE5 Mark Hawkins 6:58 Buy

Mark Hawkins

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Houndstooth

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Experimental Pop and New Wave

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