DnB producer Justin Hawkes recently released his debut album, Existential, via Pilot/UKF.
Hawkes explains, “‘Existential’ manifests as a self-portrait. It weaves between my thoughts, philosophy, and history, both within my career as a Drum & Bass artist in America and internally through the unknown future. The title itself represents the existential scenarios that have formed who I am, exploring my journey through crisis, the weight and forgotten wisdom of the past, and even the sometimes-comedic power of being an outlier.”
Formerly known as Flite, Hawkes arrived on the DnB scene with the release of “Blue Spark” with Liquicity. In 2017, he dropped his EP, The Cure, which marked a cusp of transition and was followed by releases on highflying labels like Hospitality, Monstercat, and UKF, along with performances at festivals in the U.S. and Europe.
2020 saw the Flite name replaced by Justin Hawkes, along with the release of “Lift Off The Roof” and “The Underground.”
Encompassing 15-tracks, the album begins with the title track, opening on shimmering, emerging tones rolling into orchestral-like leitmotifs that slowly build, drop, and transition to a potent DnB rhythm topped by pulsating sounds and dreamy vocals.
Entry points include “Better Than Gold,” which blends country rock with DnB-laced energy, forming a unique song, brimming with delicious, distinctive flavors. The galloping, percussive intro of “Inheritance” flows into a dazzling tune full of subdued bellowing accents.
Featuring the lusciously evocative vocals of Kat Whitlock, “Passion” reveals tints of elegance buried within the mid-tempo rhythm, and sparkling washes of color atop throbbing bass tones. A personal favorite because of the gospel flavors of the keyboard intro, “Hymn” elevates to buzzing, thick layers of DnB surges.
Dripping with dark, shadowy coloration, “Lotus Children” thrums with mysterious textures riding a mesmerizing, syncopated rhythm. While the final track, “End of an Empire,” offers up a grand, majestic intro, full of classical aromas. As the melody flows and rises, the tune takes on a beautiful, wistful soundscape.
At once atypical and refreshing, with Existential, Justin Hawkes delivers a collection of intertwining songs – oh so wonderfully wrought.