‘Hypnophobia’ is the new album from Dutch multi-instrumentalist and producer Jacco Gardner. The album is a fantastic tale of exploration told by a baroque pop wizard, casting psychedelic enchantments through the medium of magic and an eclectic collection of beautiful vintage instruments including a Wurlitzer electric piano, mellotrons, harpsichords, an Optigan, and a Steinway upright piano.
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- Hypnophobia by Jacco Gardner
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Jacco Gardner measures psych with a ruler. Unlike a lot of artists crafting tunes after their ‘60s heart and never worrying about the ramifications -- or acts like Foxygen, who make woefully sloppy concept albums twenty songs strong -- Gardner is a precise master of the silly pop music. With an abiding affection for immaculate instrumentation, he’s made ‘Hypnophobia’ something of a terrestrial wonder, a record in which space and setting is laid out by through basslines as much as it is by his storytelling; a world where the synth is given a chance to lay out a vast landscape before Gardner comes in and gets lost in it.
The layout of ‘Hypnophobia’ is a marvel: after the place-setting of “Grey Lanes”, Gardner launches into an acoustically led torch song in the vein of Love and Jonathan Kelly, reprimanding his sparse strums with an old-school production for old-school arrangements -- bass that can be heard louder than everything else and smoothly brushed drums that suggest urgency, but not for a while. It blends into “Find Yourself”, where Gardner tells stories of the outdoors in a neutral voice before sneakily bursting into the fieriest guitar riff of his career.
It’s the production that makes ‘Hypnophobia’ feel as complete as it does, though: Gardner’s world is flattened by it -- it sounds like he’s gone to find another galaxy, but he’s taken his cosy recording studio with him. There’s a gorgeous juxtaposition to be heard in this music -- as the synths and guitars sparkle into the netherworld, the rhythm section shows Gardner’s working. We hear him as the musician working and the wanderer planet-hopping.
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