Former Silver Apples member Xian Hawkins' first full-length album under the moniker Sybarite opens with "Secropia," a combination of the cool-headed, ingeniously constructed minimalism of composer Steve Reich and the more emotionally lugubrious sound of Thomas Newman, best known for his film score of "American Beauty."
Tracks like "Renzo Piano" suggest an avant-garde band that wants to write music for European car commercials. The tension works nicely, and results in an album of complex and intriguing cinematic mood pieces. Three tracks feature guest vocalists, something Hawkins used to great effect on his "The Scene of the Crime" EP with the alluring Jennifer Charles of noir-rock band Elysian Fields.
Not one track on "Nonument" is quite as good as that EP, although "Water," with the the breathy vocals of Gregory Kenney barely fighting through jagged electronic beats, is excellent. Still better is "Three Sided," where the beats are dropped as a patchwork of electronic noise beneath continues. Like a cricket-filled summer night in the country, the busy sounds coalesce into serene beauty.
"Nonument" is out now on 4AD/Beggars Group.