Like any good American abroad, video artist and musician Luke Wyatt’s first trips in his adopted home were to the national museum. In Berlin, this meant the Alte Nationalgalerie, and an immersion in the German Romanticism, thanks to the Schinkels and Friedrichs hanging there.
His fascination with bombastic, 200-year-old art stands in contrast to Berlin’s rich contemporary – or even post-contemporary – art scene. Yet the album which he recorded in the city is an equally big jump from his previous work. Recording as Torn Hawk, he made a name for himself with a series of hypnotically fuzzy records on dance labels Rush Hour and LIES, based in his hometown of New York, culminating in two albums in 2014, exploring what he described as “distressed textures”, released with recut or home-shot VHS action-movie vignette videos.
Union and Return, streaming exclusively below, is his first since Let’s Cry and Do Pushups at the Same Time. Rejecting his noise-drenched distortion pop, it places the pretty, pointillist sounds of early 21-century video games onto expansive orchestrations. If the music’s breadth suggests the sweeping might of landscape painting, the titles – The Romantic and Feeling Is Law are two track names – and their tone make explicit his High Romantic mood: two months ago, he even released a video projecting 19th-century art against in a CGI castle. This is music of gentle strength, for outsider heroes. For the kind of guy who sees himself in Rock Arch or Wanderer above the Sea of Fog.
“When I make music right I can shatter myself for a moment,” he told 032c over email. “And I become dust, return to a union with everything else.”
Union and Return is out next week on Mexican Summer.