Jacco Gardner

Hypnophobia

Polyvinyl

May 04, 2015 Issue #53 - April/May 2015 - Tame Impala Bookmark and Share


Following the 2013 release of Cabinet of Curiosities, Dutch singer/songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner was pegged as an heir to pocket symphonists of the '60s who labored intensively over lush studio odysseys. Sophomore effort Hypnophobia won't totally change this perception of Gardner, but it does complicate matters in an entirely welcome manner.

Unlike many of his psych peers, who tend to fetishize all things analog, Gardner isn't averse to modern recording technology. Archaic synths, organs, and tape effects are integral elements of Hypnophobia's sound, but contemporary looping and sampling software play an equally important role in shaping the album's era-blurring aesthetic. In its finest moments, Hypnophobia favorably recalls the fluidity of Tame Impala, though Gardner is a more cerebral-or maybe even mathematical-songwriter than Kevin Parker.

Gardner has welcomed some unexpected influences into his headspace, which only benefits the record. This is perhaps best exemplified by "Before the Dawn," which starts like a futuristic reimagining of baroque pop before evolving into an almost prog-like epic that has more in common with Kraftwerk or Goblin than Brian Wilson. Lyrically, Gardner favors sword and sorcery imagery ("Brighter") and hall-of-mirror perspective shifts ("Another You," "Face to Face"). These narrative sleights of hand are matched by surprise instrumental breaks, chord changes, and codas which function like trapdoors and secret passageways into new compositional avenues. If Gardner's studio ingenuity tends to outshine his songs, the record's sonic puzzles are beguiling enough to signal a clear step forward for one of neo-psych's more promising new disciples.

(www.jaccogardner.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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