The brothers Mark and Paul Hinks have something going with their musical partnership. Starting in 2015, the men became more than siblings growing up in Earnworth, United Kingdom. They have honed their skills and sound with live performances all across the United Kingdom. Listeners might find Some Kind of Illness’ sound as a place somewhere between a surrealist painting and a landscape by Van Gogh–this release, fittingly, features surreal artwork by Rhiannon Clark.
Following up 2015’s self titled album and the 2016 release Souls, the June release of Awakening brings to the present a retro sound that fits a vibe for today’s listeners. Utilizing retro Roland D-50 synthesizer and an 808 Drum machine, the album was recorded at recorded in Farnworth, UK; Stoneclough, UK; Birmingham, UK; and Ferrara, Italy. The ten-song album is a trip into the past and the future all all at once.
With an opening track that feels like submerging into an ocean of synthesizers, there is no mistake: this album is something special for the indie alternative band. A fusion of genres makes this album all the more satisfying. After the peace of the title track, “Neon Glass” creeps in with its haunting techno rhythms, forming a frame for some stellar lyricism. In a blink, it is done, leaving the rave behind.
One of the strongest elements on this album may be the sequencing, which takes a stance of challenging listeners rather than taking the safe path in and out. The techno beat assault of “Neon Glass” flows right into “No More Waiting”; this music is deliberate in its pace, but with rapid fire thoughts and emotions. Like the the Dutch painter and designer Bart van der Leck, all the abstract thoughts of simplistic forms fit together here. It’s smooth and insightful, requiring a deeper thought.
The transition from “Violet Dream (ft. Hara Su)” to “Memories In a Window” is genius sequencing, making this often-overlooked element in composition a strength along with the music. For instance, “Ledana” is a bit too artificial sonically to my personal taste, but it is a brilliant transition to “Cyclone (ft. Daisy Davies).” Gears shift down to “Icarus,” heading out of the ten song album, returning to the haunting vocals and ethereal music. On this third album from Some Kind of Illness, possibly the best track is the final notes heard. “Crystal Light” is that fade out into the night, blurry and clear all at once.
Track to track there may seem to be a lack of focus, much like a Jackson Pollock painting–colors, splattered colors in a chaos of contrasts. Suspend judgement of preconceived ideas of what is good or great music and listen via Bandcamp. This album is definitely a work of art.–Lisa Whealy