A Hawk and A Hacksaw

One thing that really interests me about the postmodern age is the equalizing of information. In the Victorian and Modernist eras, information was classified and labeled and privileged; Latin was better than English and civilized folks were better than natives. But now we have the Internet, which is the most equalizing of all tools. Information is laid out linearly with barely any privilege at all. [eta: I wrote “in a linearly,” for which mangled phrase I expect the English Teachers Ass’n to come for me with cats-o-nine-tails] No one fact has a God-given right to be better than another fact. It’s amazing.

Of course while we have no discernable qualifiication of information, we do have to deal with the quantity of it. When Ryan from Muzzle of Bees interviewed Will Sheff, Sheff made the point that the sheer quantity of recent music (and music-related items, such as crappy concert videos) creates a state of overload: “after awhile,” he says, “all information kind of starts to feel equally valueless.” It’s an insightful point; when the designation of “a great band” includes everything, then it also includes nothing — it has become a meaningless term.

But there’s hope for us all. The upside of postmodernism is the ability to buck canon and create our own personal privileged information. The internet then becomes our greatest facilitator — we can elevate the most obscure facts to the highest status, leaving behind anything we don’t consider interesting or worthy. Oh, sure, it’s selfish, and critics warn that it will leave us all alone one day in a dark room, staring at the flickering screen and typing feverishly to the three other people in the world who like, say, orange plastic Snoopy lunchboxes from 1983. But maybe that isn’t such a terrible thing, if it makes those four people happy.

By listening to A Hawk and A Handsaw, you are privileging the very interesting music of Romania. I grew up in Europe, but never did get a chance to visit the Balkans, so it’s all new to me. Romanian music seems to be quite the thing lately, thanks to Zach Condon of Beirut, but A Hawk has actually been around longer than he has. Condon contributes his horn-playing to the latest album, “The Way the Wind Blows,” and the Roma band Fanfara Ciocârlia also backs up with their rockin’ tuba on songs like “Gadje Sirba.”

If you like Beirut — or if you like the underpinnings of Beirut but not Condon’s singing — you will be interested in A Hawk; I have not heard all their songs, but all the ones I have heard are completely instrumental (which makes it very hard to understand why iTunes has labeled them as “explicit.” I’d ignore that). If you like contintental European music or the tuba, you will be interested in A Hawk (or in Fanfara Ciocârlia; they are award-winning artists). If you don’t choose to privilege this information, why, no loss: there’s always more out there to choose from.

A Hawk and A Hacksaw: Site | Myspace | Label (the Leaf Label)

Fanfara Ciocârlia: Site

[These tracks have been removed. You can contact me if you’d like a copy.]

A Hawk and A Hacksaw – Gadje Sirba
A Hawk and A Hacksaw – A Black & White Rainbow
A Hawk and A Hacksaw – God Bless the Ottoman Empire