Review of 'Hypnophobia,' the new album from Jacco Gardner.

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Dutch producer and multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner is to release his second album out on Polyvinyl Records later this month. Following 2013’s Cabinet of Curiosities, Hypnophobia, which actually means a fear of sleep, is a psychedelic and hypnotising release. “I came up with the title “Hypnophobia” while falling asleep and part of my brain just didn’t turn off,” explains Gardner. “I often have trouble letting go of reality, even though I prefer the world in my dreams… Hypnophobia comes from a place where fears, darkness and creativity collide, like a slightly scary lucid dream. Fearing a loss of control definitely plays a big part of it.”

The album also captures his love of travel; “Touring all over the world has completely changed me,” he says. “I’ve seen places I’d never seen before or didn’t even know existed. I think Hypnophobia has got some of its adventurous character from all those amazing experiences.” On top of this, it is also full of the sounds of the vintage instruments he collects and plays. The array of tracks showcase a Wurlitzer electric piano, mellotrons, harpsichords an Optigan and an antique Steinway upright piano sold to Gardner by a local church.

Eerie opener “Another You” starts the release with high-pitched synth notes and instrumentals as a sign of things to come. Indeed the cinematic “Grey Lines” is purely instrumental; piano mixes with synth, guitar and drums. Gardner plays all of the instruments on the album apart from the drums, which are provided by live band member Jos van Tol and latest addition Nic Niggebrugge.

“Brightly” is tinny sounding to begin with, and the track grows into something very vintage sounding, very psychedelic ‘60’s. “Find Yourself” sees some beautiful but also pop worthy lyrics; “Don’t fight the feeling, just let it in, you know you need it like the sunlight on your skin”. “Face to Face” sets a calm pace – guitar ditties keep the rhythm going before percussion shakes in.

“Before the Dawn” sees those eerie synths return, almost like you’re at a haunted fun fair. And again sounds from his growing vintage instrument collection steal the show in the title track, which this time are truly medieval sounding. “Make Me See” is stripped back, just keys and vocals with a lo-fi touch. Closing tune “All Over” is the second instrumental and is full of harpsichord sounds. Showing more control than his previous release, Hypnophobia is full of an interesting combination of drums beats, ethereal vocals and swirling instrumentals.

Reviewed by Heather Welsh.

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