Jacco Gardner // Hypnophobia

by on May 26, 2015

Posted in: Album Review, Music, Rock


Jacco Gardner’s Hypnophobia is lush and intricately layered, full of strings and synths. In this highly introspective album the young Dutch artist explores the world between waking and sleeping. Hypnophobia is the fear of sleep and, having had many weird and introspective anxiety dreams myself lately, I really believe the thoughts we experience in our sleep can tell us a lot about ourselves and our concerns. The influence of the liminal state between awake and asleep is seen in the dreaminess and wooziness Hypnophobia exudes.

Hypnophobia echoes Gardner’s debut album, Cabinet of Curiosities, retaining its general sound while taking a more haunting direction than the sunniness of its predecessor. I personally feel Hypnophobia is even better and more innovative than Cabinet of Curiosities, which was also a very strong album.

The opener, “Another You”, starts the album off with eerie, gently reverberating synths. As more instruments and background “ahs” are added and the song becomes increasingly complex, it turns into an incredibly catchy baroque rock piece.

In “Face to Face” Gardner sings of the desire to experience oneself through different perspectives and of the confusion of truly understanding one’s identity. A similar theme is found in “Find Yourself”, the album’s single, and its music video.

The title track has a bit of a krautrock element to it and reminds me of Can’s “Sing Swan Song”. This is one of the moments in which it is most apparent Gardner is really expanding his sound from his previous album. “Before the Dawn” is another excellent track, and the longest, clocking in at eight minutes. Haunting and mild at first, it builds in intensity until the ultimate escalation of intertwining piano, synths, and reverbing guitar towards the end.

“Make Me See” is short and sweet at a minute and a half, and sounds like a delicate music box song with vocals. “All Over”, the album’s last track, is instrumental and mellow, and ends the album simply like the closing track at the end of a movie’s credits.

Hypnophobia is a highly enjoyable and impressive album. Gardner himself plays all the instruments except the drums. Most songs start simply and gradually build as they become beautifully intricate. Gardner is sometimes written off as being a copy of 1960s psychedelia, but he clearly takes initiative to explore new paths and utilizes sonic effects that would have been impossible with 1960s technology, as evident with his use of looping and the hint of electronica on certain tracks. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes baroque pop and instrumentals.

Best Tracks: “Another You”, “Find Yourself”, “Before the Dawn”, “Hypnophobia”

RIYL: The Zombies, Air, Southern Boutique

Grade: B+

Hypnophobia was released May 5 on Polyvinyl and can be streamed via Spotify below:


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