Codex Hypnos, the debut release of SourceCodeX, explores ambient spaces somewhere between music and chaos. This release is a treat for fans of experimental electronica and dark ambient music.
This self-produced CD displays a stylistic boldness and confidence that is unusual for first releases. SourceCodeX makes no concessions to popular tastes. The music is devoid of melody and rhythm, and many listeners would question whether or not many of the tracks on Codex Hypnos are even music.
For fans of dark ambient music, though, Codex Hypnos is a refreshing breath of dank air. The music is languorous, murky, and hypnotic. Comparisons could be made to some of the music of Giles Reaves, Brian Eno, Steve Roach, Michael Stearns, Robert Rich or even the soundtrack to Eraserhead, but SourceCodeX creates its own style.
SourceCodeX is a recording pseudonym of John W. Patterson. Patterson has been a guitarist since 1967, but only recently began to create music purely electronically. According to Patterson, he began working with various software-based synths and sound editing programs in 2002. “CodeX Hypnos is the results of decades of listening and a few months of learning the right software. No external hardware was used! This music’s origin is 99% from the silicon cities of a very basic, outdated, personal computer.”
Their are eight tracks on the CD. The tracks range in length from about four minutes to over sixteen, making a total running time of over seventy-five minutes. Patterson uses this time to let each track unfold slowly. While each tracks uses different ideas and sounds, the pieces flow together effectively and create a sense of traveling through various ambient spaces.
The CD starts off with “Sleep Til…”, which introduces the musical territory that Patterson wants to explore. The track is similar in style to some of the work of Steve Roach, made up of continuously evolving drones. Roach calls his works soundscapes, and that seems like an appropriate categorization for this cut.
The next cut “HALsleep” uses multiple drones that vary in pitch. The effect is somewhere between muted sirens and the sound of a windstorm. The sounds have a metallic edge that lends an eerie feel to the music.
“DreamingHyperSleepDawn” is reminiscent of some of the early work of Giles Reaves. It combines dense synth pad sounds with noise effects. The effect is lush and beautiful, giving the track a soundtrack quality. This is one of the strongest cuts on the CD.
According to Patterson’s site, the next track, “Dark Star Voids”, reflects the immensity of the Cosmos. The track definitely has an ambient space feel to it, similar to some of Steve Roach’s work, and Michael Stearns’ early modular synth pieces. Throughout “Dark Star Voids”, noise sounds fade into complex pad sounds, and then fade into chaos. It’s evocative music, and effectively captures the mysterious spaces of the title.
“Arrival and Fly-by” draws on some of the same techniques that Patterson uses on the earlier cuts, including the chaotic drones and pad sounds that vary in pitch. Some of the sounds seem like they could come from huge machines. The way that Patterson varies some of the pitches result in a Doppler-like effect, like something massive is moving by.
“ForbiddenAmbientPlanet” is pure dark ambient music. The track seems to descend from the style of music that Brian Eno created on Ambient 4: On Land. Halfway through the track, the sound of a clock ticking is heard for a few moments, but the rest of the cut is made up of unidentifiable sounds. “ForbiddenAmbientPlanet” sounds like it could be an environmental recording from a science-fiction world. This is ambient music at its darkest.
“Nazgul Caves” is probably the most haunting track on the CD. Patterson says that it was created after seeing the final movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He says that “This is a very dark piece and almost was too creepy to be kept in this release.” It does have a very scary feel to it – the track includes sounds that seem like otherworldly animals.
The Final track, “InnerWorldStopTime”, recapitulates many of the ideas of the album. It also includes samples drawn from some of Patterson’s favorite movies. Patterson has great taste in movies, but the samples seem to put too concrete connotations on the track, where all the other tracks have a more abstract feel.
Codex Hypnos is a very interesting release. It’s beautiful in spots, haunting in others, and occasionally disturbing. Patterson’s work as SourceCodeX won’t be for everybody, but will be a treat for fans of the dark side of ambient music.
Information and free MP3 samples for Codex Hypnos are available at Soundclick.