Announces his second full-length album Engel and shares the lead single
On April 3, 2020, Toronto’s Scott Hardware will be releasing Engel, his second full-length album, and first on Telephone Explosion Records. It will mark the end of a three-year process of writing, recording and letting down his guard (for better or worse.)
His last album, 2016’s Mutate, Repeat, Infinity, was the culmination of a years-long obsession with the HIV/AIDS crisis and how it was shaped by capitalism. Hardware’s early years after coming out were shaped by the courage of people close to him who were dealing with difficult diagnoses.
“Looking at these situations from a macro/societal lens must have been the only way I could process and share those years of my life and my loved ones’ lives with an audience” Hardware recalls.
“From a writing and production standpoint, I was trying to re-imagine various eras of dance music and sound as urgent and vital as they
would have in their heyday of the ‘80s and ‘90s.”
Within a year of moving back (to Toronto) from Berlin, Scott watched Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire and was immediately filled with its inherent curiosity. The film, in short, follows angels around pre-unification Berlin as they listen to the thoughts of the mortals they are
“I sought with this album to capture the film’s velvety feeling – in turns funny, depressing, dark and mundane – in LP form” Hardware says.
“These songs imagine Wenders’ angels buzzing around my friends, my family and I. Writing from their point of view allowed me unfettered
access to my own thoughts about them and myself.”
In the title track, the subject is in a relationship with a mischievous angel (named Engel,) who is probing his mind against his will.
“Here he comes to comfort me, but like a fly around my head I’d sooner swat him dead,” is sung over an off-the-grid deconstructed house piano.
A symphony of creaking trains and industry envelops the banging piano and delicate strings on the chorus while our hero complains
“He’s here with that look again, he knows what’s happening, inside,” not, it would seem, ready for this level of Vulnerability. Millionaire swoops in on a courtship doomed from the beginning:
“He’s a Millionaire, and what a Millionaire says goes”.
A sense of inferiority follows the protagonist in his efforts date a richer man than himself – the romance being cut short because of the poorer man’s insecurities. He decides: Better to be alone than to feel beneath. Millionaire is the most delicate song on Engel. Sullen guitars glide over a rolling plain of harps, drones and underwater motifs with Deidre Nox’s beautiful vocals bringing
an almost camp level of melodrama to its crescendo as Harwood and Nox sing together:
“you can feel him like he’s always been there.”
The song ends on a sour note, in a swamp of drones and fallen electrical wire buzzes – and back where the protagonist began.
Survivor’s Guilt ties Engel to Hardware’s previous work with its premeditation on illness and the grief left in its wake.
A digitized voice reads a sister’s eulogy to her brother lost to suicide after years of losing his friends around him to “a disease.” The six-minute instrumental takes respective production cues from both Boyz II Men and vaporwave.
A chopped voice asks sadly, “How can I survive surviving?” before Nox appears once again, singing the song (and album) to sleep.
Engel’s cover art is adorned by an image by artist Chris Curreri called the Insomniac. Curreri’s work winks and nods to queer sex, emotionality and darkness, and this piece is no different.
This is work that reaches back to queer artists such as Francis Bacon and brings back with it a timeless everyday horror faced by queers: shame.
These are artists who visualize monsters and demons hiding in plain sight. Like singing to dead queer ancestors on Mutate, Repeat, Infinity, Harwood is trying to make sense of another queer cross-to-bear, this time coming from within.
The image is gory and difficult, not unlike the process of digging shame from one’s spirit. Engel, in its preoccupation with angels, the afterlife and private thoughts holds hands with the image.
B I Z Z A R R E
Scott Hardware – Engel