In some electronica genres, such as IDM and Drum 'n' Bass, the drums skip, stutter and generally do everything but come up with a Unified Field Theory. The percussion to be found in Dreaming In Pieces by Hypnagog walks another path: it's well-behaved, mid-tempo dance/trance stuff that won't scare the horses. However, the synth work deserves a restraining order, an ASBO and an ankle bracelet. If Hypnagog hasn't pored over every atom of Air's magnum opus (and the most popular slice of French dinner-party electronica ever) Moon Safari, you can paint me yellow and call me a daffodil. The four tracks on Dreaming in Pieces are coated with layer after layer of melodies, diversions and digressions, all wrapped up in an analogue sensibility that en(psy)trances the ear.
During my rigorous selection process (it involves Guinness and meringues), the right half of my brain would whisper: "Meh...it's a bit leaden. It's ok, I suppose." But every time I reached for the "Destroy World" button, the left half of my bonce would butt in and exclaim: "Ooh, that glitch was unexpected. Hey, what's happening to the tempo? Wow, here comes another ice-cream of a synth. Crikey, is that three melodies at the same time? Funky, too."
My strait-jacket is tailored, you know. Only the best for CTW.
From the first few seconds of Still Dreaming, it's clear that Hypnagog (Felix Greenlees, an Australian earbender) is holding true to his stated intention to combine downtempo psychedelic breaks and IDM with his own style of psychedelic dance music. Pads, synth lines, squeaky stabs, IDM pitch-shifting: it's all there. And you get a rather nifty bassline. Job done.
Funkdiddle is full of aural cream cakes: a persuasive use of pitch-shifting and reverb in the introductory percussion section and, amongst other attractions, lots of analogue squelches. Its groove comes mostly from the walking bassline and micro-drumrolls, while the tempo variations and the cheerful, bluesy organ solos got me to the finishing line faster than a dysentery-suffering Usain Bolt chasing an Andrex puppy. Given the chance, I'd have popped Funkdiddle in your friendly CTW media player.
Next up is Tiny Little Pieces, starting with an audio sample that discusses the Biq Questions in life, followed by six minutes of soothing Spanish guitar, unpredictable diversions into glitch lay-bys, endlessly melodic synth doodling and mercurial tempo changes. It should be plain by now that this is a "headphones album"; there's so much superb work in Dreaming In Pieces that it demands your full attention, even though the overall effect is like reclining in a hammock and sipping a daiquiri. Like I said, think Air.
The last track, Reflections No.2, sounds as though Hypnagog ransacked every sine-waveish preset in his synth collection and played music that made him happy. This track will be at home in a beachside bar's dirty old stereo or in an audiophile's temperature-controlled, earthquake-proofed record collection.
And that's what I like so much about Hypnagog's release. It's as superficial or as deep as you want it to be, thanks to its constant melodic invention, restless search for smooth new sounds and a clean, spacious recording.
I hope you enjoy the album as much as I have. Bye.
I've forgotten something, haven't I? Ah yes, the sounds. Tut, me and my memory. Well, er, it pains me to say this but Up Records, in their otherwise razor-sharp Australian wisdom, supply only a zipped album, which means that visitors to their website can't hear their music.
Fear not, Dreaming In Pieces is also featured at Ektoplazm, the suitably-psychedelic-but-I-still-got-my-shit-together-man psytrance portal/netlabel, so I'll just grab an mp3 from there and...
No, no mp3 files there, either. However, at least they do stream one song, Tiny Little Pieces. So go here to hear it. Incidentally, Ektoplazm do a very good job of catering to fans of free psytrance, as their charts, download figures and frequent updates will testify. It's a fun place to visit. Chapeau, gentlemen. The website's appearance can be described as... trippy.
Actually, you'd be better off at Hypnagog's MySpace page, where you can listen to all four tracks and press his Paypal button. Go on, send money around the world. Do it enough and you'll get a bailout. Heh.
Harrumph. While I am very grateful to all netlabels for their dedication and hard work in releasing CC music, I must say that persuading some of them actually to part with their music is akin to tickling trout. Fernando Fonseca's (Hi F!) recent rant on this subject ruffled a few feathers. He's mostly right in what he says, though I would have phrased things rather more gently; after all, I'm a confirmed coward gentleman. Fernando himself is vastly experienced in netaudio, helps to run the excellent PublicSpaces Lab netlabel and has linked symbiotically with the internet. Think probes and aliens. Ouch.
Yes, I know, CTW is a minefield of CC netaudio information. And I'm handsome. Control that jealousy, people.
Hypnagog - Dreaming In Pieces EP (link to zipped album in MP3, FLAC and WAV)Hypnagog website