Hans Chew's music explores the existential. Beginning with 2010’s Tennessee & Other Stories... and continuing on 2014's Life & Love, his albums have revolved around finding meaning in life, death, love and rebirth. Now on his latest release Chew drives deeper at the essence of the matter: From where does the human soul emerge? From what obscurity arises the urge to create? In Sailing To Byzantium, W.B. Yeats describes the human heart: “sick with desire, and fastened to a dying animal, it knows not what it is…”. Or in Hans Chew's words on this his third album: The human animal is of unknown sire.
As the themes Chew explores on Unknown Sire are expanded, so is the material. The familiar sonic territory of opening track "Easy Money" with its boogie piano and laid back Tulsa groove recedes quickly from view, its cynical lyric serving almost as notice that these are merely headwaters. The album shifts tones into the erstwhile title track "Tell Me", whereupon its journey begins in earnest: "What are you afraid of? Is it everything unknown, is it what you're made of?" Not unusually, Chew's writing here spans multiple genres, but the recordings mark the first appearance of synthesizers in his work, and tracks like "Early Light Waltz", "No Existe", and "The Sign" blur the lines between psych-rock, folk, electro and R&B, while also melding concepts of the beginning of time, the passing of time, the illusion of time, and the end of times.
released September 2, 2016
Unknown Sire was recorded by long-time Chew collaborator Jason Meagher at Black Dirt Studio, who plays multiple instruments on the album, and was mixed by Jeff Ziegler at Uniform Recordings.