Boomkat Product Review:
This Heat’s Charles Hayward spearheads the theatric art school post-punk thrust of Abstract Concrete, a rabble of his stylistic descendants including Agathe Max (UKAEA), Otto Willberg (Yes Indeed), and Yoni Silver (Hyperion Ensemble) flocking around chamber-pop, and tinted with a jazzy, turbo-folky rusticness
“Charles Hayward, co-founder of This Heat and Camberwell Now, recently entered his eighth decade, but instead of slowing down, he’s actually stepping the pace up dramatically. After a string of sensational gigs in the UK and the US as part of This Is Not This Heat, a newly revitalised and inspired Charles, formed the band Abstract Concrete in 2019.
The band features Agathe Max (Mésange, UKAEA) on viola, Otto Willberg (Yes Indeed, Historically Fucked) on bass, Roberto Sassi (Snorkel, Cardosanto) on guitar, Yoni Silver (Hyperion Ensemble, Steve Noble) on keyboards and Charles himself on drums and vocals.
Combining sweet chamber pop hooks with dubwise bass, plaintive Balearic guitar licks, and a blend of folk and jazz-informed post punk, accompanied by lyrics that bend from the political to depressed toilet cleaning apparatus, Abstract Concrete follows a continuum of such melodic art school innovators as The Kinks, Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt and Penguin Cafe Orchestra, as well as Hayward’s own experimental post punk past, all the while nodding to a childhood spent listening to folk and pop.
The journey to this album, for Charles, has been long and complex, but in short, he brought a wealth of fragments with him; of musical concepts, of time changes, of hooks, of melodies and developed them with the group: “I work in a very strange way, which takes into consideration that I have been doing this for my whole life. I've always got fragments of songs just waiting to find a home, waiting for lyrics, waiting for a bridge section to something else. It involves saying to yourself, ‘I'm going to do this until I die.’ I’ve had one of the tunes, ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’, going round my head for over 25 years.” After this there was only one fixed rule: that he would write the lyrics in response to the compositions they were forging together, a process he describes as “weirdly democratic”.
The lyrics are, he explains, “a reaction to the times we’re living in” – often reflections on the political climate of today, the impact of Covid and the changing role of music itself, with the songs being composed and structured in unusual ways to emphasise these concerns. Written by John Doran .”