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Bark Psychosis

Post Rock/Math rock

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Bark Psychosis Hex album cover
4.11 | 89 ratings | 11 reviews | 44% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Loom (5:15)
2. A Street Scene (5:35)
3. Absent Friend (8:20)
4. Big Shot (5:20)
5. Fingerspit (8:21)
6. Eyes & Smiles (8:30)
7. Pendulum Man (9:53)

Total Time: 51:11

Line-up / Musicians

- Graham Sutton / vocals, guitar, piano, Hammond organ, melodica, sampler, programming
- Daniel Gish / piano, keyboards, Hammond organ
- John Ling / bass, sampler, programming, percussion
- Mark Simnett / percussion, drums

- Dave Ross / djembe
- Neil Aldridge / triangle, programming
- Peter Beresford / vibraphone
- Phil Brown / flute
- Del Crabtree / trumpet

The Duke Quartet:
- Louise Fuller / violin
- Rick Coster/ violin
- John Metcalfe / viola
- Ivan McCready / cello

Releases information

Artwork: Graham Sutton

CD Circa ‎- CIRCD 29 (1994, UK)
CD Caroline Records ‎- CAROL 1753-2 (1994, US)

Thanks to Retrovertigo for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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BARK PSYCHOSIS Hex ratings distribution

(89 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(44%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars When I picked up this cassette in the mid-90s I didn’t know who Bark Psychosis were. The reining kings of the music world were grunge and new rock like Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Offspring. I figured with a name like Bark Psychosis – well… needless to say, I was a bit disappointed. Instead of garbled lyrics and angry rhythms I got Ferryesque vocals and something resembling Kraftwerk over symphony for the musical arrangments. Post-rock really wasn’t a genre at the time, and these guys didn’t fit into any kind of musical paradigm I was interested in, so I tossed the tape in a drawer for ten years or so and moved on.

A few months ago I saw an album review of Codename: Dustsucker, and realized this was the same band. As it turned out, only a couple of the players were the same, but it piqued my interest and I dusted off the old tape once again. Also turns out I didn’t miss much, as the group hadn’t released anything in the ten years between Hex and Dustsucker anyway. I read about mental breakdowns and side projects, and six years in the making of the follow-up – but you can search the web for the same information so let’s not belabor that here.

What I (re)discovered was what very much may be the birth of post-rock music. Turns out this Graham Sutton guy was a grammar school kid back in the late 80s who formed a group of similarly-minded young musicians. They released this disc in 1994, and it sounded nothing like pretty much anything else out at the time. Of course since then there have been a whole host of similar-sounding post-rock groups that have emerged to much greater acclaim than Bark Psychosis, but it seems they may have been, if not the first, at least on the bleeding edge of a new generation of music. Like so many new sounds to come along over the years, they may have been just a bit ahead of their time.

“The Loom” starts off with a very somber piano, augmented after a while by several strings and some mild percussion. A couple minutes in there’s some mellow djembe drum work, and Sutton chimes in with some light Hammond organ and his wispy Dream Academy-like vocals. It’s an arrangement that starts off with a lot of promise, but frankly doesn’t really go anywhere. Good mood music, but that’s about it.

With “A Street Scene” the band abandons the piano in favor of what sounds like a couple of Hammonds, some almost imperceptible trumpet, and a conventional drum kit instead of the djembe, plus more of Sutton’s mumbling lyrics. The only real tempo change is about halfway through when the music is pared to just a Hammond and the muffled trumpet. Other than some soft guitar wandering in a couple of times, that’s how this one ends.

“Absent Friend” has what actually sounds like some programmed drum tracks, and again the heavy use of very mellow synthesized keyboards. This may as well have been an instrumental as the vocals are so faint they are almost nonexistent. Lots of triangle and celestial bell-like percussion at the end, but this is yet another tune that never really takes shape.

Next is “Fingerspit”, piano and what sounds like acoustic guitar, but this really sounds more like a tuning session. Every once and a while there’s a quick flash of some dissonant snare and electric chord sounds, but otherwise this one kind of wanders on by as well.

There’s liberal use of trumpet and organ on “Eyes & Smiles”, although the vocals are so faint that they often sound like simply background chatter. This one manages to work in a couple of interesting build-ups, interesting mostly because one doesn’t often hear trumpet and flute worked into a post-rock crescendo. Sutton’s vocals are largely distorted noise here.

“Pendulum Man” is the longest track on the album, and probably one of the better songs. It starts off like a combination of “The Loom” and “Fingerspit”, but pretty much every instrument heard elsewhere on the album makes it into this track as well. Here again the song doesn’t seem to be either building toward something, or reinforcing any kind of theme, but at least there are some mild tempo changes and the arrangement is quite smooth.

I heard one sample track from the 2004 release Codename: Dustsucker, and I will say that the reformed group’s sound is much more mature and developed today, but this debut effort shows little of that spark.

All in all it’s not a bad record. In fact, the arrangements are decent, and the production quality is very good for that time period. But this is very clearly an early, experimental work by a young group that was many years away from being a cohesive force. It’s worth an extra point probably considering the band’s historic value, but in reality this at best a three star effort. Unless it can be found cheap, I’d probably steer to one of the compilation works (or their new album) if you’re just curious to hear how the band has evolved.


Review by Prog-jester
4 stars Marked by freshly-born label of “Post-Rock”, BPs lost their possible role of genre’s headliners. All deserved flowers were sent to MOGWAI, GYBE! and SIGUR ROS, while BPs been tried to create another “Hex”. Actually, this is neither brilliant nor awful album. It repeats TALK TALK “Spirit of Eden” formula, but with some innovations (alternative rock shades etc). Nothing completely groundbreaking (since 1988), but enjoyable and mellow journey thru soundscapes and half-hidden voices. Recommended if you’re a genre’s fan...and even if you're not. My review is somewhat cold, so let the rating speak for me - 3.5 rounded to 4
Review by Gooner
5 stars The best kept secret of 1994. Bark Psychosis released one of the most addictive and unique Progressive Rock albums of the '90s. On "Hex", Bark Psychosis is covering uncharted territory. They cover with ease - ambient, minimalism, free-improvisation, space- rock, and have a real knack for gorgeous, catchy and dreamy melodies (rampant throughout) all in the space of 5 to 8 minutes "pieces", not songs. This is neither Symphonic, Fusion, Jazz, RIO, or Zeuhl. An extension of the direction of later period Talk Talk, really. Similar to Tortoise, but more melodic, lyrics and not entirely instrumental. The vocals are very laid back, and the instrumentation is as follows: piano, Hammond organ, bass, samples and programming, trumpet, cello, viola, flute, vibes, drums, guitar (very minimal), djembe and Melodica. Bark Psychosis would appeal to fans of Tortoise, Rain Tree Crow, mid preiod Porcupine Tree(especially "Moonloop"), later period Talk Talk & the ambient works of '80s King Crimson (such as "The Sheltering Sky" and "Nuage"). Fans of Brian Eno's "Another Green World" would also approve. I rank this highly on the originality scale alongside Gentle Giant's "Acquring The Taste" (my fave of all time), but of course, Bark Psychosis is the best of the pick in the "post rock" genre. "Hex" should be in the top 5 for recommendations of "post rock" on this site.
Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of the first Post Rock albums!

When i became part of the PA family some years ago, one of the sub gernes that were totally unknown to me was the Post Rock one, i just knew Godspeed and Sigur Ros, not even EitS at that moment, so i felt the need of getting myself some of the genre's music in order to understand what was it about and also to increase my self-knowledge. I remember that little by little i started listening to different albums not only from the big names of the Post Rock, but also others like the one i am reviewing now, which fortunately left me very pleased and with a great taste of this music.

Bark Psychosis is the name of this band and Hex is the album's title, which was released back in 1994 when i am almost sure the label Post Rock didn't exist or it was maybe giving it's first steps, i don't really know, but what i am sure, is that the music created here was not the music the people were used to at that moment, so for me this is a landmark album, one of the very first Post Rock examples and to my ears, one of the best ever released.

Hex contains 7 songs and a total time of 51 minutes, my real knowledge about the band is very limited, what i know is that their leader was a man called Graham Sutton who gathered a serie of friends and musicians who had similar ideas and way of seeing life, the line up here is very vast, several people contributed in the creation of this beauty.

The album starts with The Loom, with a piano introduction and then with a delicious atmosphere created by the percussion and synths accompanied by Sutton's vocals, which by the way is very particular. It is a great and warm opener song, though at the end of it, it fades out with a strange manner. Let me tell you that this is an album that you must listen with good headphones, since there are some hidden sounds that may not be caugh by the listener without headphones.

Then we have A Street Scene , where the bass repeated lines predominate and create the rythm of the song, some seconds ago we will listen to a trumpet here and there along with a soft guitar playing, the vocals appear again and gives to the song it's needed flavour, the kind of abstract background created by the synths is wonderful in my opinion.

Absent Friend is the first longer track with more of 8 minutes, and believe me that this particular track reminds me to some Talk Talk moments, in specific the drumming from the fifht song of Laughing Stock whose name i don't remember now. There is an strange atmosphere here in the first part of the song, suddenly some nice guitar chords enter along with some other string instrument that plays it's own game within the song, the second part of the song is envolved by a beautiful mood which may provoke on you either a sense of tranquility or depression, it depends on you how you want to receive the music.

With Big Shot we finish the first half of the album, this song starts with a mini keyboard introduction, and then the rythm is marked again by the bass lines and soft drumming, there is always a kind of spacey and mellow sound created by the synths, at the half we have a little change with some piano notes and a triangle giving it's extra sand grain, the synth effects are always at the right moment, but in my humble opinion, this song in particular fades out all of a sudden when it still has something more to offer.

Fingerspit is a very curious song, while the most of the time we will listen to an over calm mood giving you a feeling of peace, it has several moments where guitars and vocals start a crescendo that sounds like if they had a rage inside that are trying to release in those parts. In the second part of the song there is a moment when actually everything sounds like an improv, as if they were just playing with the music, a part where seems there is not a goal to reach and has an incoherent sound. That may be good for the listener, or that may be the worst moment of the album.

No we have Eyes & Smiles which again reminds me to some Talk Talk moments, the soft and delicate playing of both guitars and drums along with the mellow vocals may intrigue you, what i like of post rock is that the music can take you whenever it wants, i mean if you listen carefully the mood create it will take you and make you feel the emotion the song is producing at the moment, it happens a lot with this song because i personally create some images in my mind, so this is what we call visual music, the song also has again the trumpet sound, very cool song which at the end has some kind of screams.

And everything has it's final episode, the one here is Pendulum Man that also is the longest track of the album reaching almost 10 minutes but well the first minute is just a repetition of a guitar note, inviting you to stay tuned there until it finishes, this is a clear example of what post rock is about, s piece of rock element created by the guitars, an atmosphere totally ambiental, and an important sense of minimalism within the composition, i repeat, with your headphones you will catch the sound much better, and will catch what the music really transmits. And with this representative song, we have reached the end of Hex.

I personally love this album, which without a doubt is on my top 5 of post rock, i invite everyone who loves the genre to appreciate this, and for those who like me wanted to explore more the realm of post rock, i highly recommend this album. My grade, 4 solid stars, excellent addition to any prog collection!

Enjoy it!

Review by Warthur
4 stars Though the debut album by Bark Psychosis was not the first post-rock album - other bands such as Talk Talk had made early explorations of this territory - it was the piece which caused the term to be coined, as reviewers grasped for ways to describe the music presented here. The influence of the last two Talk Talk albums is clear to see, particularly in Absent Friend, where Bark Psychosis engage in tranquil jazz explorations which are very obviously inspired by those on Spirit of Eden.

Whilst the album does not expand the boundaries of post-rock to any great extent and lacks the sweeping scope and inventiveness of the classic albums that preceded it, it's still a carefully- composed and elegantly performed piece which is enjoyable in its own right. Plus it provided proof that it was possible to capture the late Talk Talk sound without enduring the sort of extreme recording sessions and massive expense those albums entailed. Not an absolute classic, but still a very fine achievement.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Music writer Simon Reynolds coined the term "post rock" to describe the music on this album. So, technically it could be called the first post rock album. However, there was music by other artists before this that could be now labelled "post rock"; also, most of the latter day post rock groups don't sound too much like this album. Why 'post rock' anyway? There were a number of bands in the early 1990s (mostly instrumental) who were hard to classify: they were too weird and experimental to be just be labelled "alternative." These bands were referred to as 'post rock' because of the lack of riffs, guitar solos and big choruses that are commonly associated with 'rock' music.

Hex has elements that you will find in later post rock, but more importantly elements that you find a lot of in *early* post rock. Along with later Talk Talk and early Tortoise, Bark Psychosis had a jazzy feel to them which would later almost disappear with later, more popular post rock groups. Even though I am on the Post Rock Team I find the majority of post rock boring and derivative. Originally Sigur Ros was the most popular post rock group, but it was Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor who ended up influencing the future of post rock; many a post rock band sound like grade B versions of those two bands. One of the reasons I was invited to join the PR team was because of my knowledge of early post rock and the styles of music that influenced it.

Arpeggios and cross-picking, crescendos and soft-loud dynamics...these are not things you will find a lot of in Hex (although you will find some). The early PR bands were a lot more experimental and adventurous than the majority of the latter day ones. Bark Psychosis were an English band from east London. They started out as a Napalm Death tribute band(!), although the music of BP is almost the polar opposite of the grindcore of that band. Before this album the group, led by one Graham Sutton, released a 21-minute single entitled "Scum." It was a live improvisation of ambient music recorded in a church. Hex was also recorded in that same church because of the natural reverb it offered.

Let us get into the music on this album for now, I'll get into what happened to this group afterwards. This does, to a certain extent, sound like some later post rock but also like later Radiohead. That band was very much grunge-meets-Britpop at the time of this albums recording. I'm still confused as to whether Radiohead influenced Post Rock or vice versa. Maybe they influenced each other? Overall the mood here is mellow and the vocals are some sort of talk-singing, very subdued and not attention grabbing. "The Loom" opens with almost New Age-y piano and some strings. Later subdued vocals (there really isn't any other kind here) with some exotic sounding percussion and atmospheric keys.

"A Street Scene" you can listen to on PA. This starts with some tremolo guitar which sounds like later post rock. The drumming here sounds like some of the drumming on later Radiohead albums. Some trumpet and something close to a 'chorus'(probably one of the reasons this track was picked as a single). Later on goes into a light jazzy post rock-before- post rock vibe. "Absent Friend" has more tremoloed guitar and what sounds like accordions. The dub reggae influenced bass playing (similar to early Tortoise) adds a lot to this track. Later you hear some of the classic arpeggio/cross-picking on guitar which later became mandatory for many PR bands. Some hypnotic yet melodic sequencers and some Tortoise style vibraphones at the end.

"Big Shot" is the standout track for it's dub-y drums & bass and overall atmospherics. Some more vibraphone here. Great production in this track, it really sets a mood. This is the only song on Hex recorded as a trio since one member left (more on that later). "Fingerspit" is more mellow light jazzy ambient rock. Parts of this song sound similar to some of the stuff some 'alternative' bands were doing at the time. Especially when the guitar and vocals get a little more loud and intense. "Eyes & Smiles" has more light jazzy drumming along with chorused guitar and the never offensive vocals. Atmospheric keys join in. Later the drumming gets less jazzy and some strings get added.

An atmospheric middle section with chorused guitar arpeggios slowly getting faster before all the instruments come back. Near the end the noisy free-jazz trumpet playing reminds me of Art Zoyd. A repeated phrase on distorted vocals to end it. "Pendulum Man" has 2-note guitar playing as atmospheric synths and another guitar playing 2 notes (but different notes) enter. Some tremoloed guitar arpeggios add to the atmosphere. Then a 2-note bassline as the original guitars get slightly more varied in their playing. Some ambient atmospherics as the bass plays randomly. Ends with chorused and delayed and tremoloed guitar and a few piano notes. No drums or percussion at all. Very ambient but also the least interesting song here; good thing it's at the end of the album.

Hex took over a year to record. The sessions for the album took its toll on the members. Supposedly Graham Sutton was not the easiest guy to work with. Some members quit and Bark Psychosis never toured for the album. Apparently their live shows at the time rocked more and were more spontaneous than the atmospheric music of Hex. According to Sutton 50% of the album was made using a computer. It doesn't sound like it (but it doesn't sound like it was recorded in a church either). There would finally be a follow-up album released in 2004...a decade later.

For me post rock reached its creative peak between 1996-99. The early stuff like Hex sounds like a blueprint but not so much a statement. The late 1990s saw an explosion of creativity for post rock groups. But the early 2000s saw both the original PR bands starting to loose steam and newer bands with a somewhat more watered-down formula starting to ascend. Hex is an important album as far as '90s rock music goes. It's not quite as influential on later post rock as some make it out to be, but at the same time shows how diverse early post rock really was. It's hard to give a rating to this; it has historical significance but at the same time I'm not a huge fan of the music overall. The vocals in particular I don't really care for. An interesting album nonetheless, I will give it a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Many consider this to be the first Post-Rock album although band leader and singer Graham Sutton was a huge TALK TALK fan and that's the band I thought of right away during my first spin of "Hex". I actually prefer the album they put out 10 years after this but there's no denying that this is an influential album. Sparse, ambient, lots of space are words and phrases that kept coming to mind as I listened to this. Lots of guests here adding vibes, flute, trumpet, djembe along with a string quartet. The main band adds vocals, drums, guitar, bass, organ, piano, melodica and more. I like that album cover as it reminds me of how good this is while listening to it at night while driving.

"The Loom" opens with relaxed piano as strings swell and recede in the background. Bass just before 1 1/2 minutes then drums and vocals join in before 2 minutes. I like the bass, percussion and atmosphere that follows as the vocals step aside. An experimental ending as well. "A Street Noise" opens with percussion and bass then vocals. Some trumpet comes and goes. It turns fuller with vocals just before a minute and contrasts will continue. Keys, bass and a very minimal sound starting after 3 1/2 minutes to the end.

"Absent Friend" has a relaxed start with sparse guitar, a beat and accordion-like sounds. It picks up a little with bass before a minute. Such a chill out tune. I like when the keys arrive making things brighter and they will come and go. Headphone music the rest of the way. Ambient is the word. "Big Shot" is laid back with organ to start. I love when that bass and drums takes over quickly reminding me of that great MOONGARDEN album "Round Midnight" especially when the vibes arrive.

"Fingerspit" opens with keys I think, a beat, atmosphere and reserved vocals. Trumpet around 3 1/2 minutes as the vocals step aside. Bass, drums and more continue. Vocals are back just before 6 minutes along with some rare outbursts of trumpet. It's building. Manipulated vocals after 7 minutes. "Eyes & Smiles" is a tough go, just not a lot going on over the 8 plus minutes. Sparse acoustic guitar to begin with as fragile vocals join in. Lots of space here as discordant piano arrives before 5 minutes along with some outbursts but then it settles right down again. Vocals are back after 5 1/2 minutes. Acoustic guitar is back late to end it with relaxed drums.

"Pendulum Man" ends the album and this is almost 10 minutes of ambience. A guitar line is repeated as atmosphere rolls in. Atmosphere only after 4 minutes but the acoustic guitar returns quickly plus trumpet at 4 1/2 minutes. Organ follows. Sparse and relaxed. Piano and atmosphere lead late.

This will sit nicely beside my later TALK TALK albums. I'm far from being blown away by this minimalist work but I have a great appreciate for it considering it's 1994.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The album that gave birth to a new sub-genre of music: The name "Post Rock" came from some discussions which followed music critic Simon Reynolds' use of this term during his review of Hex. He was using the term to describe the new style of music being produced around 1994 of which Bark Psychosis was one group. To my ears this music sounds just like the music DAVID SYLVIAN was doing ten years before with his string of albums, 1984's Brilliant Trees through 1987's Secrets of the Beehive, especially the vocal stylings and syncopated drum tracks--plus the keyboard/synth work is amazingly reminiscent of RICHARD BARBIERI's work and the guitar parts in "Absent Friend" are Fripp-Sylvian-ish. (So, I have to ask: Where was Simon Reynolds when Sylvian and friends were collaborating on their 1980s ground-breaking and, apparently, ahead-of-their-time music?) While the album is definitely full of scaled down, slowed down, trip-hoppy, acid jazzy, ambient rock, it is also a collection of widely different songs. Most people will recognize in the album's last song, "Pendulum Man" (9:54) (19/20), as a perfect example of the prototypical Post Rock song. I particularly love the album's chamber-trip hoppy-jazz number, "The Loom" (5:16) (a sure tip of the hat to the amazing stuff DAVID SYLVIAN and his drummer-brother, STEVE JANSEN were doing ten years before) (9/10). "Big Shot" (5:21) (10/10) is beautiful and mesmerizing. "Fingerspit" (8:22) (19/20) is, however, the jewel in the crown. Over eight minutes of seemingly random unstructured free form atonal jazz music with many unexpected sounds, noises, and samples thrown in--just because they could.

A masterpiece of a sub-genre and a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Latest members reviews

3 stars And this is how a beautiful genre is born.This is was an important step in the development of modern progressive rock. It develops many of the post rock trademark features, while still undeveloped and in experimental stage. Why would i rate such an important historic peace of art just "good, but non ... (read more)

Report this review (#114964) | Posted by Revan | Tuesday, March 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars At the time this album came out its was a very new and refreshing type of music; although this could be a Pioneer album the music played here was a mixed between the experimentations of John cage and the avant-grade of the 70`s. But even with those references no one in 1994 could imagine the re ... (read more)

Report this review (#77971) | Posted by bamba | Friday, May 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The album that give birth to prog's youngest child, POST-ROCK. In a more primitive state, Bark Psychosis' first release showed a slightly immature band, more influenced by Joy Division than by Pink Floyd (if there's a space to mention a prog band influential in Bark Psychosis' sound)... But de ... (read more)

Report this review (#53740) | Posted by Minstrel X | Friday, October 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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