When Joni Mitchell sang ‘you don’t know what you got till it’s gone’, she sang lyrics of eternal truth. To know of impermanence is to know of fragility, but accepting it is a different ball game. Ian Hawgood’s sensitive music is acquainted with the stark reality of transience and the nature of leaving. Produced in Tokyo and Warsaw, and without using any computers, Hawgood’s delicate tones succumb to the process of ageing and decay, passing like wisps of smoke through an open window. But instead of fearing change, Hawgood’s music embraces and even celebrates the salt and pepper streaks in a once-blonde head of hair.
Impermanence is built on light hisses and wavering textures. A live, unpredictable, and dangerous voltage works its way through meek tones, acting like a subway’s third rail, roaring like a caged lion. These sounds were taken from a collection of vintage synthesizers and reel-to-reel machines, some of which have now been procured by the British Library, and this lends Impermanence a vital authenticity. While the technology may be receding, growing older by the day, its sounds are still relevant, bearing music of an invincible status. In some ways, music can age, too, as some songs can feel dated.
These synths, although growling like well-used and ancient vocal cords, are alive and ageless. The older equipment only serves to make the temporary even more immediate. For Hawgood, the process is vital. He takes his time, revelling in the joy of creation. If something is valuable to you, you’ll put the time into it.
‘For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ – Matthew 6:21
Time is the enemy of transience – there’s never enough time. But Impermanence displays music of significant value, a glistening treasure only unearthed after many long (and necessary) hours. You need to put in those hours to discover the treasure in the first place, and this is the result. Something special, heartfelt. Along with enlightened levels of patience, Hawgood instils a deep calm into the fabric of the record. Every hiss means something. Every warble has its place at the table, resting in perfect imperfection. His respect and reverence for the synthesizer can be heard in every single second and within every tonal fibre, within every fold and every crease, and these sounds come to fruition at the right time. ‘Never Gone’ and ‘Never Alone’ declare the eternal, but in the here and now, eternity feels like a dislocated concept. Echoing the opposite of transience, the music rests in a heart which one day will stop beating.