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Alpha Hopper: Alpha Hex Index (walkthrough)

Alpha Hopper from New York are a perfect soundtrack of 2020: crazy, hectic, all over the place, messy, relentless, and never ever boring. Their new album Alpha Hex Index just came out on the excellent Hex Records and it will show you a trick or two…Think Sleater Kinney on psychotics, think Riot Grrrl by mathcore addicts, think vocals like Harry Potter’s moaning Myrtle, think a big hodgepodge of styles with a punkrock attitude, and then think again because you are probably wrong. This is music you probably shouldn’t write about, so in stead let us just have them introduce their work to you themselves; welcome to a walkthrough of Alpha Hex Index by Alpha Hopper!

Hi guys! How are you doing? Hope you are ok in these freaky times!:

Ya we’re all doing good. I think we’ve all read/watched enough dystopian sci-fi books and movies to be mentally prepared for all this. – John

While science is cracking away at curing us of each other, now we’re all scientists of ourselves. This year everything is a window. Glass windows to look out on danger, 4K OLED windows to society and excitement, windows in our hearts to glance around at what’s hiding in there now that we’re alone. – Doug

Yeah! what Doug said! – John

I just realized I am sending you this in election times, how have you experienced the whole thing so far?:

Ugh, You don’t wanna talk about that, do ya? 1 Star review. Even having 45 lose this election still feels like finding out you brought home bed bugs after having to stay in a real sketchy place. The nightmare is far from over and we should really just throw everything out. Burn the mattress. – John

Epic slugfest between Art and The News, where making things always wore subjectivity on its shoulder, reporting just getting into the game. Broadcast media has turned its haymaker fists to interpretation, performative synthesis, an inclusive cornering of the philosophy of meaning. A lot of us making art still finding the language to offer meaningful and emotive and broadly tempting subversion in a social landscape where every voice is a closed world. – Doug

Ok, so I had this idea of a walkthrough while I was listening to your album. I didn’t quite know what to make of the song titles and the lyrics so I would like you guys to provide some feedback, or if you will, liner notes to each song. Things like: what inspired you to write it, interesting things that happened during writing/recording and/or the lyrical content. Anything goes! 

01. In The Desert In The West: 

A standoff between yourself and the unspeakable evil. I hope you win! -Irene

Horse riding song of urgency and confusion, pulling too hard on the reins. – Doug

02. Not the Universe: 

A song about offering ourselves to ourselves and accepting what we see. – Irene

03. Big Body: 

I read a science fiction story once about an alien life form inhabiting a human’s body. The way I remember it, the alien had formed eyes in the host’s fingers so the alien could see out into the world, but everything it saw was grotesque and monstrous in its point of view. However, because they were psychically linked, the human could see how the alien saw the host and other humans and it drove him crazy. Anyway, short story short, that’s the inspiration for this song. – Irene

It was lonely monstrous striding between cities to stomp, to crush and crumble, far horizons from my unmatched vantage, until lo, in that far-off dust cloud materialized another giant, a turbulent friendship of mutual hunger. Careless steps. – Doug

04. En-skin: 

A crash and tumble run from the demons that chase you, and not the kinds you’re willing to confront because these will eat you alive. -Irene

05. #592720:

This is the first of a series of instrumental segue tracks that appear throughout the record. Each one foreshadows a prominent musical theme from one of the moments to come later on, but reimagined in a robotic, computerized synthesizer vibe—kinda like what HAL 9000 might put on while cruising around the moons of Jupiter. The idea was to plant a little, weird seed in the mind of the listener that then blossoms once the actual part hits so that it feels vaguely familiar in a ghostly, haunting way. Since our songs tend to be really dense with a lot going on, we wanted to break up the record with some short interludes that give your ears a quick break and punctuate the wall of sound for a few moments before sending you back in for more punishment. #592720 takes the end theme of Glows Explodes (track 7) and sends it through the Hopper mainframe, generating a digital readout of its component parts. The title “Alpha Hex Index” was actually inspired by some of the settings in a file save dialog box while exporting digital graphics, and so each of these segue tracks is named with a six-digit hexadecimal value, the way colors are encoded for use digitally. We discovered that lots of specific hex colors actually have alternate common names, this one being “Caput Mortuum” which is an alchemical term for the useless, leftover substances from a chemical reaction and it literally translates to “dead head” or “worthless remains.” So, all of that seemed fitting for a remix of a song about exploding stars. – Ryan

06. The Goods: 

A fun ditty about good-old fashioned competition. – Irene

07. Glows, Explodes: 

This one is about moving on from things that keep you stuck in places. Life’s short (unless that recent study about the first time reversal of the signs of biological aging leads to something) so it’s important to get out there and do what you want. -Irene

Panicked typing to keep the darkness away, hopeful coding with a crystal golem deadline. – Doug

08. Wrestles Snakes: 

One of my favorite songwriting techniques is to create a female character and write about her. It’s one way I try to channel what I want out of myself. Yeah, I want to wrestle snakes. – Irene

09. #1D2951:

The second instrumental segue track on the record. Similar to “#592720”, this one takes a preview of the closing section of “Third Man” and gives it the “John Carpenter in outer space” retro-future treatment. This hex value, #1D2951, is a dark gray-blue known as “Space Cadet,” which pairs with a song about a hallucinated presence during a traumatic or lonely experience. We chose this name thinking about the loneliness of deep space, an experience that might trigger the Third Man Syndrome in a fresh, green cadet sent off into the great nothingness for the first time. – Ryan 

10. Spiral: 

A reminder to self that it’s ok to go down a spiral of emotions (am I allowed to write a one-liner for a song using the words in the song?)

11. Third Man: 

Doug and I got really into rock climbing the sport + the hallucinatory companion documented by those lost on tops of mountains. Don’t do the math -Irene

Uh oh, that whistling is not a teakettle, is not the wind. – Doug

12. #16161D:

This last brief interlude is another instrumental take on Third Man and inverts the foreshadowing model of these segue tracks for an echo of what you just heard on the preceding track. This one is just a bit of dénouement / aftercare, letting you down gently from the abusive climax as its sound waves reverberate and fade out while expanding outward into the abyss. The hex value here refers to a dark gray color known as “Eigengrau” which is a term for the color that people see in the absence of light; it’s not black, but rather the gray you see when you close your eyes or look at the spaces between stars in the night sky and you see an ever-changing field of tiny black and white dots rather than absolute black. – Ryan

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