Hypnotique The Hanging Garden
By Marcus Pan
Initially I was impressed by
the ribbon-tied packaging of this release. Very well thought out, an individual
and hand-crafted look to the specialty folded cardboard casing with a hand tied
ribbon that held the CD from falling out during shipping. Cut-out lace designs
along the edge adorn it, and a picture of Hypnotique herself in full-on
pretension. The Hanging Garden promises me the new "electronic sound of
the future." But for the most part we have a mirror copy of the imagery on the
limited edition hand crafted gatefold of which I have one of seven
hundred and seventy seven copies. Pretension galore!
Seemingly one of those one-woman "bands" who "play" various
instruments (the press kit states "anarchic vintage synthesizers" which really
is one instrument...keys are keys) including the elusive theremin, the work on
The Hanging Garden is cerebral, spoken word and extremely eclectic at
best. Tinkering minimal synth keys and a humming theremin offer a backdrop to
Hypnotique's opening spoken poetics on The Witch's Tale.
Rereading the press kit and liner notes, I have a feeling
Hypnotique is being a bit self-congratulatory. (How do you "play" voice and
computer processing? And is it really necessary to list four separate keyboard
units?) Bands listed as being worked with I don't recall hearing, and she
trained on theremin with the inventor's grand niece. It has me wondering that
with all this supposed experience, why am I pining for at least an attempt at a
good arrangement and some decent production on the sound? Being unafraid of DIY
as the kit states as one thing but there's got to be some level of
professionalism attempted, no?
The King Never Died is nuisance sound at best with
echoing spoken word and one of the most bee-buzzing annoying backdrops I can
recall, yet at the same time it's one of the better songs on The Hanging
Garden, at least attempting to sound musical. Alphabetic meanwhile
opens with someone who proclaims how his voice is coming from "the left side
only" now, which, frankly was a trick that stereo recording accomplished
decades ago. The instruments used are specifically stated as "vintage" while
this is supposed to be the "sound of the future?" As Alphabetic
progresses we have Hypnotique begin playing a...well, it sounds like a phone.
Or one of those children's toy pianos.
Dear Diana is interesting with Hypnotique's singing
and some very cabaret like clarinet accompaniment. The production could be much
better, but it has a very burlesque appeal to it. Likewise the accompaniment of
Clara De Lune is quite pleasing to the ear. These are the two highlights
to The Hanging Garden's twelve tracks. A few come close, Trust Me
is decent but too similar to Clara De Lune to impress me after it...and
the lyrical/poetic content does leave very much to be desired.
I can dig the poetry, I can even dig the ambience of The
Hanging Garden to some extent, but I can't dig someone who levies the guise
of pretension at the level Hypnotique does within the cerebral confines and
makeup of this same garden. The packaging is the best thing to have here. The
CD is boorish, monotonous and overzealous while only amateurish at even its
best moments. I'm sorry, but I can't recommend this beyond being interesting to
look at. Most should keep the ribbon tied.
Post: Unit 1, Forest Garden Mews, Off Forest Gardens, London, N17 6XA,
Phone: +44 (0) 208 808 5126