Jacco Gardner | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Jacco Gardner

Hung Up on a Dream

Aug 05, 2015 Jacco Gardner Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share

“I really like when something crosses over between worlds, to a place where it’s not completely innocent anymore, and gets kind of weird, psychedelic and scary,” explains Jacco Gardner. The Dutch singer/songwriter is offering insight into how darkly trippy children’s films such as Labyrinth have inspired him, but he may as well be characterizing his second and latest full-length, Hypnophobia.

The album takes the symphonic ‘60s obsessions of his 2013 debut, Cabinet of Curiosities, as a starting point, but delves into eerier, more expansive fantasy territory. Says Gardner, “Baroque pop is just a combination of sounds I really like. And when I hear them used in pop music, like harpsichords, strings and flutes, it’s always more visual, and takes me away to another place. Basically, my mind starts working immediately when I hear it. But my music has taken so many other directions now.”

And indeed, each song on Hypnophobia does feel like a portal into a slightly different world, or as Gardner observes, “a new scene from the same film.” “Grey Lanes” and “All Over” are lushly synthetic instrumentals, while “Brightly” suggests a stately fairy tale worthy of Gardner’s preferred lyricists, Tim Buckley and Donovan. More sinister songs such as “Before the Dawn” and the title track, however, betray a burgeoning interest in film scores and early electronic music.

“There’s more of a progressive side to the album, a little bit of Krautrock,” Gardner says. “I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic music from the late-‘60s and early ‘70s, like Mort Garson and Bruce Haack. My music already had cinematic elements, but once I discovered soundtracks and found out there’s such a thing as ‘library music’ that’s very cinematic, I kind of got more into that and tried to find out how that would work for myself.”

While Gardner intentionally mimicked ‘60s production methods during the creation of Cabinet of Curiosities, Hypnophobia is intended to have a more timeless feel. The album’s unusual sound results from a hybrid of digital and analog recording techniques, as well as the use of Gardner’s own collection of obscure vintage instruments. Of particular importance was the Optigan, a toy optical organ used on every track “to create kind of a ghostly, scary lo-fi tape sound,” which helped unify the record. Aside from the drums, Gardner himself played every instrument featured on the album, which he also mixed and produced. The fact that this all took place at his personal recording studio (and place of residence), dubbed “The Shadow Shoppe,” only heightens the sense that Hypnophobia is meant to be the actualization of Gardner’s private dream-world.

“I don’t make music thinking it’s just for me, but it is a really personal thing,” he remarks. “I’ve always been very drawn to that. When I was small I would always be ‘the dreamer’ in class. It’s always been part of me, I guess, using my imagination and the visual part of it. So this kind of music works really well with who I am. It feels right.”

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s April/May 2015 print issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]



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