Posted in Whathaveyou on November 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
You know, I was listening to Hypnos 69‘s Legacy just yesterday, by coincidence, and I still feel like that record is lightyears beyond me. Maybe I wouldn’t feel that way if I was ever so fortunate as to see the band live, but that doesn’t do me much good now. As it stands, Legacy is one of probably two records (I can’t think of another, but will allow for the possibility) that I’ve reviewed since starting this site that I still feel like I’m learning more about with every listen. Simply brilliant.
And if you’re lucky enough to be in Germany for the end of 2011, you can catch those Belgian prog wonders with Dutch fuzz upstarts Sungrazer (whose Mirador is pretty high on my list for this year) and Glowsun from France, whose split with Electric Moon was recently reviewed. Brash German hardcore punkers DxBxSx will guest on the first three of the four “Santa Psychedelica” tour dates, which Sound of Liberation was kind enough to send over. Behold:
Xmas is coming soon and we have some sweets for you as well…
Hypnos69 (BEL), Sungrazer (NL) and Glowsun (F) combining their psychedelic spirits to deliver you some outstanding After-Xmas–Shows!
Special Guest for the “Punkedelica” After Show Parties in Cologne, Munich and Dresden are DxBxSx from Berlin… well know for their wild Party Rock n Roll!
Posted in Features on December 27th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t want to say I was prepared to be let down by Hypnos 69‘s maybe-final LP, Legacy, when it was released earlier this year on Elektrohasch Schallplatten, but basically I was. Nothing against the Belgian classic proggers, but in my mind, an album of the same quality as 2006′s The Eclectic Measure just wasn’t a fair expectation to put on a band. I mean, The Eclectic Measure was a landmark, a thing of beauty. A once-in-a-career achievement.
Spoiler alert for anyone who doesn’t yet know: They did it. Legacy is a better album than The Eclectic Measure. It’s more developed in every way — guitarist/vocalist Steve Houtmeyers proving to be as talented a singer as he is a songwriter and a soloist — and although even as I gushed all over the record in my review, I wasn’t sure if the songs therein would prove as memorable as those from The Eclectic Measure, Legacy has proven strong in this regard as well. I’m just as likely to hum a flute part as I am to sing a lyric. The blend of elements on a track like the 18-plus-minute closer “The Great Work” is nothing short of majestic.
It’s not that they’re genre-less, or not completely aware of the context in which they’re making music. It’s simply that Hypnos 69 are in a class of their own. Legacy is a staggering collection of songs. There are days when I feel like I’m too tired to listen to it because I won’t have the energy to fully enjoy the experience, but my own worthiness aside, the growing and morphing appeal of Legacy‘s rich melodies and complex arrangements only means that the pleasure in listening is going to increase with age. One of the year’s best and then some.
This is the mother of them all. Short of doing three songs in as many hours, which I could have done just as or even more easily, I don’t see how any audiObelisk Transmission could get heavier than this one. It’s just a little bit of an excuse on my part to have an easily accessible copy of Dopesmoker at all times, but with new music as well from Hypnos 69, a classic dirge from Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine and one of Boris‘ most avant garde moments, Transmission Zero Zero Nine is an absolute monster. I hope you dig it.
No need to hide the tracklist after a jump since it’s only four songs. Click the banner at the top of this post to get the file, or stream it on the player above. Here’s what we’ve got:
0:00:08 Sleep, “Dopesmoker” from Dopesmoker (Tee Pee, 2003)
There was no way I was going to make this podcast and not include this song. It’s the riff that launched a thousand clone bands, and Sleep‘s shining hour. Literally, an hour. Plenty of time to worship.
1:03:42 Hypnos 69, “The Great Work” from Legacy (Elektrohasch, 2010)
New music from these Belgian classic proggers. It’s the last cut on their new album, Legacy, and maybe their most aptly-titled song ever. Their sense of melody is second to none and the progressive elements in their approach have never shined brighter than they do here.
1:21:53 Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine, “He Who Accepts all That is Offered (Feel Bad Hit of the Winter)” from Rampton (Southern Lord, 2002)
The lineup of Lee Dorrian (Cathedral), Stephen O’Malley (SunnO)))/Khanate), Justin Greaves (Iron Monkey/now-Crippled Black Phoenix) and Greg Anderson (Goatsnake) only put out one album under this cumbersome moniker, taken from a song title on Earth‘s Earth 2. It’s a good thing. I don’t think the universe could handle a second without ripping in half.
1:51:35 Boris, “Flood” from Flood (MIDI Creative, 2000)
Is that guitar forward or backwards? Both? I doubt anyone really knows what Boris are getting up to for the entirety of this song, Boris included. I remember interviewing drummer Atsuo Mizuno a couple years back and he looked at me like my head was on backwards when I asked about it. See if you can figure it out.
Posted in Reviews on September 7th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
If this is going to be Hypnos 69’s legacy, so be it. After the Belgian psychedelic progressives put out The Eclectic Measure in 2006, I didn’t imagine they’d be able to top it, since the album had such an individual balance of quirk and sonic familiarity, taking elements of earliest King Crimson and melding them with the more straightforward early ‘70s British rock style, but on their new offering, Legacy (Elektrohasch Schallplatten), the four-piece lean heavily on the prog end of their sound and push even further into the unhinged creative. The album is seven tracks that play out over a staggering 72 minutes and can be equally potent either in one extended sitting or over the course of a few sessions. Several of these songs, including opener “Requiem (for a Dying Creed),” are like an album in and of themselves.
What’s increasingly come to make Hypnos 69 unique sound-wise is the band’s use of jazz structures and classic prog instrumentation – King Crimson’s sax, Jethro Tull’s flute, everyone’s mellotron, etc. – but the band fuses these aspects of their sound together with a driving rock that’s grown over time to be the expansive, encompassing presentation of Legacy. The album starts and ends with tracks both over 17 minutes long (who doesn’t love a long opener?), and though we’re treated to a variety of sounds and styles in between, somehow Hypnos 69 manage to remain Hypnos 69 for the duration. The guitars of Steve Houtmeyers (also vocals and theremin) would seem to lead most when playing leads (rather than riffs), but the material on the album is just as likely to be driven by sax, organ, flute, drums or bass. Parts come introduced by one instrument then echoed on another, giving the songs a structured, cyclical feel. Even on “An Aerial Architect,” on which Houtmeyers’ guitar runs in tandem with Steven Marx’s saxophone à la “21st Century Schizoid Man” – at least for part of the track – the interplay between instruments is tastefully and intricately composed. Often Houtmeyers’ leads seem restrained, not trying to do too much, to just play the notes that need to be played rather than give some needlessly showy display of technicality. That comes up on later outings like the airy “Jerusalem” or the aptly-named 18:27 closer, “The Great Work.”
Basically, what Hypnos 69 are doing on Legacy is taking the style of play they introduced on The Eclectic Measure (you could argue their jazzier side showed up on 2004’s The Intrigue of Perception, or that it’s been there since their 2002 debut, Timeline Traveller, and you wouldn’t really be wrong, but it’s a question of focus more than mere elemental presence) and setting it to a completely different scale. Even the subdued “My Journey to the Stars” presents growth in its soft, memorable vocal melody, and though drummer Dave Houtmeyers “sits out” the acoustic-led “The Sad Destiny We Lament,” he finds other work on various percussion and glockenspiel while Marx fills out the track with overriding synth and bassist Tom Vanlaer thickens up the bottom end. The percussive Houtmeyers gets his revenge on the 10:48 “The Empty Hourglass,” which is as driven rhythmically as anything Hypnos 69 has ever done, the band stopping and turning on a dime under the six-string Houtmeyers’ lead, only to have Marx do a call-and-response on sax with the vocals during the verses. If it sounds like there’s a lot going on with the band, song and album, there is, but Hypnos 69 manage not to overwhelm even at their busiest, though I’ll say that it’s inevitably going to take a couple listens before the full breadth of Legacy reveals itself to the listener. In both creative scope and sheer length, it is a massive undertaking.
Ever since mentioning them in the Astra review the other day, I’ve had my mind on Belgian psych trippers Hypnos 69, and specifically their last album, The Eclectic Measure. Since it’s sunny in the valley for what feels like the first time in a year (though it’s not supposed to last), I thought I’d share this live clip of “The Point of No Return” filmed live in Leuven in 2007. They’re probably my second favorite act on Elektrohasch, which is saying something. Hope you dig it.