Hawksmoor’s mysterious cartography slinks underneath the city of London, linking six Hawksmoor churches. Using hauntology as a preferred weapon of choice, the music seeps out of ancient stones, its retro-faded synths discolouring the surroundings and bringing out a sickly-pale image of the past. Its lines run over and through the more modern structures, an invisible route flowing with residual energy and dark events of old.
Nicholas Hawksmoor’s churches are unlike others in their design and architecture. At the time, they were deemed to be ’extremely radical…using many esoteric symbols such as pyramids and obelisks, rather than the obvious traditional Christian shapes and symbols, a juxtaposition that seemed to contradict, perhaps even mock, the architectural vocabulary of traditional Christian churches’. Nicholas Hawksmoor’s own beliefs were called into question on a number of occasions, and his churches are awash in the bloodstains of pagan symbolism, labelling the architect an occultist and earning him the name ‘the devil’s architect’. Hawksmoor’s Christ Church rests in Spitalfields, where in 1888 Jack the Ripper terrorised the city with a spree of notorious murders. In 1975, Iain Sinclair’s poem Lud Heat suggested that the sites of these churches formed an invisible geometry of power lines in the city, corresponding to an Egyptian hieroglyph. Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor was a murder thriller that built on the myth, and graphic novelist Alan Moore’s From Hell featured Hawksmoor, Jack the Ripper, freemasonry and the monarchy in an overarching Victorian conspiracy (shhh…don’t tell Dan Brown), so there’s a lot of ripe history within.
The pagan, ancient and pre-Christian influence is a strange one. Witnesses to the afterlife seep in through a note’s calling and its mysterious engraving, suffusing everything with an off-balanced, eerie feeling where the past still resonates, pumping bad history into modern air; paper-music crawling out of the pages of an M.R. James tale ensure that there are darker forces at work. The music here is a psychic outlet, the streets and alleys containing some kind of residual atmosphere along an active fault-line invisible to the naked eye. Using decaying tape loops, pulsating rhythms and direct synths, the music flows through the city, both underneath and above it, rivalling the Tube lines in terms of depth while the synth carves into the skyline with a tip as sharp as a spire.
Just like the interior architecture of the church in question, the differing tracks have their own architecture; differing personalities and unique sets of beats locked inside synth-sequences. The coda brings a warm, gentile and suitably dressed guitar, its sepia-sunshine lighting upon the skin without ever burning it. A past century leaks out of the music, displaying itself like some kind of spectral projection. Dizzying synths and strong, red-blooded drones help to carve out the psycho-geography of London, connecting the churches together in a strobing line of footprints, moving through the rain and past the night bus, its atmosphere curdling into a pile of growing evidence and stacks of proof of the past stomping its feet over the present.