The debut CD from multi-instrumentalist Hypnotique, The Hanging Garden, is a daring and challenging CD, combining influences of classical electronic music, electronica, cabaret, gothic lyrics and English folk music.
Hypnotique is known to many UK electronic music fans as the voice of the Switched-On radio interview series. In addition to her skills as a radio producer and host, Hypnotique plays theremin, synths, piano, organ, clarinet, saxophone, recorders, percussion, viola and sings.
The CD is challenging because it is genuinely experimental, jumping from genre to genre freely. Every track is unique, and Hypnotique writes with a wide range of knowledge of styles. Hypnotique also makes no attempt to address commercial concerns,
Highlights of the CD include Alphabetic, which combines sequenced tones that dance from one speaker to another with processed vocals. The result is more Charles Dodge than popular electronica.
The delightfully bizarre Last Wednesday pairs an upbeat exotica groove with a scolding spoken lyric: “I know what you did last Wednesday”. She processes her voice to provide different perspectives on the rather sordid events.
See-Saw bounces around electronic crackles and metallic sounds, swirling around your ears for an all-too-short 40 seconds.
We Will Fight Them on the Beaches is a mournful dirge that combines subtle synth orchestration, a lyrical saxophone solo, and a series of phrases and responses on a variety of wind instruments and theremin.
Winds of Malcontent is another short piece, this one only 44 seconds. Hypnotique uses a variety of processed noise sounds, some sounding like they are reversed, to interesting effect.
Overall, the CD is a very interesting collection of music that refuses to be limited by convention.
One concern with the CD is the mixing/mastering, which detracts from the music on some tracks. Hypnotique’s voice is often buried in effects, resulting in a muddy sound in some places. It’s almost as if it were mastered for headphones, rather than speakers. This is disappointing, because the production does not always put the music in the best light.
If not for the production flaws, The Hanging Garden would be a great CD of experimental music. Even with this caveat, it remains one of the most daring and experimental albums we’ve heard this year.
The Hanging Garden is available via Hypnotique.net.