Jacco Gardner

Hypnophobia

Written by: BV on 23/05/2015 20:48:47

Jacco Gardner dazzled me with his take on glistening psychedelia melded with baroque-pop hooks on his debut album, “Cabinet of Curiosities”, which I stumbled upon sometime in 2013 and he immediately struck me as a musician people with my particular interests should most definitely keep an eye out for. Now, two years later, Gardner has returned with “Hypnophobia”, his sophomore album effort and the time has come for him to prove if he is but a pastiche of his (obvious) influences or if he has melded more of himself into his considerable songwriting craft.

With album opener “Another You”, the eerie atmospherics and pristine production are noticeable from the get-go. As a creator of soundscapes Jacco Gardner is near-impeccable. The production is as lush as ever and the melodious arrangements are endearing whilst light as a breeze – containing so many subtle layers of sounds that never overcrowd the soundscape. In terms of hooks, however, Gardner seems to have lost a bit of his edge on “Hypnophobia” as “Another You” – however pleasant a listen it may be – is rather forgettable and doesn’t really leave a lasting imprint on the listener. Similar things can be said about “Grey Lanes”, although the instrumental track’s build-up is considerably more memorable when compared to that of “Another You”.

It is not until lead single “Find Yourself” blasts through the speakers the listener is exposed to something truly memorable on “Hypnophobia”. Luckily, however, “Find Yourself” is such a success in itself that it is easy to overlook the initial blandness of the first three tracks of the album. The soundscape is compelling and beautifully arranged with the rubbery bass-line being the constant driving force whilst layers of various synths push the pristine melodies forward. Lyrically speaking, it is possibly some of Gardner’s strongest work to date with lines like; ”don't fight the feeling / just let it in / you know you need it / like the sunlight on your skin / try to let go / from the other side / don't lock your doors / but only do it right”, standing out as prime examples of the imagery his music and lyrics seek to conjure up.

“Before the Dawn” is the longest running track on “Hypnophobia” and, as such, it does more or less exactly what you’d expect. It reaches out to the farthest corners of Gardner’s current soundscapes – pushing the boundaries of it all, in a trance-inducing soundscape based on endless repetition, occasional interludes of tremolo guitars and soft vocals whilst the predominant focus is constantly on the constant ping-pong of the base melody of the track. It’s a long track and, at its core, it might be far too long for its own good as this longevity quickly propels the track towards the initial blandness of the album’s first tracks. The eerie and ominous tones of the title track prove to make up the defining track of the album, and it is thus the ultimate peak of the record as a whole. The track is similar to that of a somewhat frightening lucid dream, meticulously layered with new variants of the signature style of twisted, surreal imagery lurking around every corner of instrumentation. Where “Cabinet of Curiosities” had a greater emphasis on the great melodies, ”Hypnophobia” seems to have abandoned some of that approach to take on a slightly more ominous life of its own. Most of the songs are still highly compelling, but in contrast to “Cabinet of Curiosities” they only seem to function at their best under more specific types of mindsets.

Download: Hypnophobia, Find Yourself, Face to Face
For The Fans Of: Foxygen, Syd Barrett, Morgan Delt
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 04.05.2015
Full Time Hobby


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