After a little break, we’re back with another round of Hypnos label picks on sale for you! All items are just $5.99 each, and the low prices are good through June 7th.
Numina – Eye of the Nautilus
We are pleased to announce the second release by Numina on the Hypnos label, the follow-up to his acclaimed breakthrough Sanctuary of Dreams (2004). Eye of the Nautilus is similar to its predecessor tonally, but also explores some different themes and textures. Evocative electronic percussion is present at times, but overall the feel is one of deep-space ambience.
It is with good reason that Numina is one of the few names in ambient music to so quickly gain in reputation and prominence in this new millennium. His work evolves dramatically with each new release, and by now he has surely made the transition from “new name you should watch” to the status of “established artist.” This is an album full of ideas, with a fresh and varied sound design.
Guest artist Rudy Adrian lends his trademark sound to the second track, “Secrets from the Flame,” and as with Sanctuary of Dreams, R. Chris Fraley provides artwork, and Hypnos founder M. Griffin is responsible for mastering and layout.
Paul Vnuk Jr. (Ma Ja Le) – Silence Speaks in Shadow
SILENCE SPEAKS IN SHADOW, the first Hypnos CD by Paul Vnuk Jr. of Ma Ja Le (a duo that released a collaboration IMAGINARIUM with Vir Unis, and also more recently issued a limited-edition live CD with Hypnos artist James Johnson). Vnuk ventures out into the solo world with a longform release that blends the environmental sounds of a cityscape with an ebbing and flowing synth atmosphere. SILENCE SPEAKS IN SHADOW gives us a glimpse into the psycho-environmental sounds of a city drenched in rain and industrial sonics. Stating his inspiration for this project, Vnuk says: “The open windows and industrial sounds of a rain drenched city can have a strange calming effect on the soul.”
A pre-release review by Jim Brenholts says: “….expertly mixes somber passages and samples with an expansive drone, nature samples and melodic pastoral ambience. The effect is both chilling and calming. The emotional and spiritual responses are clear and undefinable. The physical response is immediate calm. This CD is essential psychoactive meditation material!”
Hypnos Recordings feels a special fondness for smooth, long-form environmental pieces. We find them full of details which gradually reveal themselves, and transport the listener to unfamiliar locales, or frames of mind. SILENCE SPEAKS IN SHADOW is sure to be a favorite “place” of many who experience it.
“Soundscape meets cityscape in silence speaks in shadow, a panoramic blend of shapeshifting ambient streams and subtle occurences which blend rather than intrude. No hustle-bustle here as paul vnuk jr. processes the most subdued audiovisions, transmitting them as these flowing scenes of 9.2-rated beauty. Quite gorgeous! The amazing Hypnos catalog just keeps getting better… ” –David Opdyke, The AmbiEntrance
“Everythings about this CD is dripping with cool, from the jet-black cover sprinkled with nighttime city lights, to the soft rain that permeates the sounds and music. This is truly an environmental work, labeled “psycho-environmental music,” which is accurate. Vnuk successfully depicts an urban setting, with the rain falling and the windows open. Soft synthesizers accentuate real-world sounds such as a siren driving by (I backed the CD up to be sure I heard it right, thinking it was real). Changes are slow and subtle. It paints a perfect sonic picture, the musical equivalent of the current American penchant for “reality-based TV.” Other discs have used environmental sounds, particularly rain, but this is a cut above. It really sets itself apart from anything else out there. Thunder rolls occasionally, synthesizers softly float throughout much of it, but the rain really is the centerpiece, at times the only sound heard. Everyone knows the feeling of hearing a gentle summer or autumn rain on your rooftop or out the window on a sultry day, and how refreshing and luxurious that can be. Now, you don’t have to wait for just the right conditions to experience it. This is perhaps the ultimate ambient music, truly meant to be played in the background, to be absorbed into your world of the moment.” –Sequences, Phil Derby
M. Griffin – Fabrications
Originally announced in 1997 as the follow-up by Hypnos founder Mike Griffin to his debut Sudden Dark, Fabrications has been reworked, abandoned, restarted from scratch, back-burnered, reimagined, and left frozen in carbonite. Among those who have followed Hypnos from the beginning, Fabrications achieved a certain notoriety as the album always promised for release in the coming year, which never quite arrived. 2008 is finally the year in which Fabrications is revealed, perhaps appropriate for the 10-year anniversary of its original planned release date, 1998.
Generally known as an ambient minimalist, utilizing synthesizers for most of his work, this time M. Griffin took advantage of “real world” sounds, captured with binaural microphones using a portable digital audio recorder. For this release, Griffin built up collages of numerous location recording elements, including cars driving on freeways, people walking in long echoing hallways, the ocean waves in Kona at night, a metalworking factory with heavy machinery crunching away, distant trains, and clothes driers. These elements were manipulated, combined, worked-on and re-worked, and overlaid with looped spoken elements later created by Griffin in the studio. The end result comes out something like the Zoviet France soundtrack to a David Lynch film, that is, a dark and dream-like collage of loops, spoken fragments, disembodied whispers, and the echo of far-off machinery.
While ambient music recordings generally only include a few “layers,” Fabrications has been painstakingly built-up over the years so that all tracks are now comprised of dozens of layers, in some cases upward of 100. The result is incredibly complex, with ghostly remnants of real, concrete sounds filtered one against another. Aural signatures of many real places combine to form sonic impressions of a series of locations that do not really exist. These imagined, artificial locales are in effect, fabrications.
“This CD from 2008 offers 60 minutes of reprocessed environmental ambience.
All sounds on this album were derived from location recordings, like the Pacific Ocean, a steel sheet cutter, a waterfall, footsteps in a tunnel, a large electrical transformer, a jetliner cabin, running water, and a night-time walk on the beach. To achieve the music, signal processing was utilized. So…the tunes are harmonic constructions without peppy melodies of discernible rhythms.
The pieces are moody soundscapes, possessing environmental hints amid fogs of serene sounds. Textural layers undulate to achieve an atmospheric demeanor punctuated by additional tones and effects. Those additional elements maintain a soporific character, gentle and ephemeral, waves that cascade with languid substantiality.
These natural tonalities retain little of their original presence, having been transformed into a series of resonant aspects that exude an otherworldly disposition. The sounds drift like vaporous configurations, blending with each other to engender fragile oscillations. These oscillations waft with breathy delivery, generating an expansive aerial tide of softly roiling emanations.
A softly grinding (periodically rotary) sound provides an edgy undercurrent to some of the tracks, establishing an eerie presence.
These harmonic compositions are ethereal and often elusive. Their flow is evenly crafted with appropriate highs and lows generating an emotional mien. Example: the “Gravity” track, while airy and tenuous, exhibits a distinct sonic pressure that approximates weight. The delicate sensibilities embodied in this music are temperate and soothing, delivering an ambience rich with sedative properties that at the same time produce a subtle psychic invigoration.” –Reviewed by Matt Howarth at Sonic Curiosity
“This one was worth the wait. One of the most truly “ambient” recordings Hypnos has released, great listening for headphone-nauts. I’ve heard the third solo album will be coming out in 2018, so everybody should have lots of time to wrap their ears around these gorgeous micro-worlds of sound.” –“drone on” on the Hypnos Forum
Various Artists – Echoes of Polyhymnia
Polyhymnia was one of the Muses of Greek myth, specifically the Muse of sacred hymn. Echoes of Polyhymnia compiles music in ambient and related genres composed and recorded exclusively by women. This genre is so male-dominated generally that we had a lot of fun gathering interesting ambient sounds, including some works that have one foot in ambient territory and another foot in one of several different, related genres. It covers styles and flavors as diverse as ambient, drone, glitch, vocal collage, goth and electronica.
Hypnos manager (and artist) Lena Griffin curated this specially-themed compilation which gathers an assortment of ambient & atmospheric sound works from around the world. This project reveals a totally new angle on ambient music, more diverse and wide-ranging than all previous ambient compilations from Hypnos. Ranging from ethereal to dark to pretty to spooky to melodic, we think this album displays a solidly worthwhile musical and soundscape content beyond just the curiosity and “I’ve never seen that before” factor of the theme.
“The nine Muses struck up a lifestirring melody. Polyhymnia, nursingmother of the dance, waved her arms and sketched in the air an image of a soundless voice, speaking with hands and moving eyes in a graphic picture of silence full of meaning.” –The Dionysiaca of Nonnus
“My compliments for /echoes of polyhymnia/, great album!” –Dennis Koepper, Databloem
“A wonderful compilation from Hypnos, featuring women in ambient music. Highly recommended.” –Scott Raymond, WVKR-FM
Austere – Solyaris
This is a creative peak for this much-overlooked ambient duo, their first release on Hypnos, following their Hypnos Secret Sounds album Pulse in 2007. In their 10 years of productivity, Austere has covered territory from Pulse’s drone minimalism , ranging back through odd and trippy Coil-inspired sonic experimentation, to seamless dark ambient, and occasionally glitchy weirdness. Despite some challenging material in their back catalog, Austere have in this case produced an album as friendly and pleasant as any Austere fan could have imagined possible, and yet without resorting to the usual tricks that make music sound “listenable.”
Bill Binkelman of Wind and Wire said of Austere:
“Austere is an enigmatic duo who record some of the more interesting ambient music I’ve heard in my six plus years of reviewing. From the swirling drones (I was gonna say “dark” drones, but ….) and eerie melancholy of Monodia to the warmth and beauty amidst minimalism of Fade… Austere are less concerned with following the path and more concerned with breaking new ground. However, they are undoubtedly enigmatic, as one would glean from the above, and shun the spotlights of media and personality.”
Numina – Shift to the Ghost
Numina’s third album on Hypnos Recordings is “Shift to the Ghost,” a long-form continuous piece with indexed track points. Each song is distinctly different in feel, but the songs evolve seamlessly into each other.
Numina himself states that the album “is about the life and death of the physical self,” hence the title. Whatever the concept, this album contains all the elements Numina fans enjoy, from deep and sombre ambient, to twinkling, swirling space music, constantly evolving. It’s a long, fascinating visual journey, and it never grows tired.
The latest work from ambient “rising star” Numina is possibly his best yet.
“This release from 2006 features 70 minutes of eerie tuneage. Numina is Jesse Sola. Pensive tonalities rise to insinuate a portentous presence into a brooding darkness. It’s a tenuous presence, however; one that exhibits little animation, watching with unseen eyes and subtly influencing its immediate environs. Sighing electronic textures undulate with luxurious determination. Ethereal waves seep across the firmament, occluding silence with a translucent demeanor. A liquid undercurrent aids this vaporous resonance. Buried in the atmospheric flow are hints of violins and drawn cellos, so deeply immersed that they could well be illusionary sounds. Also lurking in the mix are traces of more demonstrative electronics, but pulsations actually surface to calmly dominate the ambience and generate a savory tension. An eerie mien permeates these songs, but there’s nothing ominous or threatening about these sonic ghosts. They are congenial spirits, conveying wisdom and introspection to the listener. Sola’s predilection for seasoning his pure ambience with softly churning activity imbues this music with a seductive quality. The compositions maintain a resolute dedication to a borderland between minimalism and density, producing tuneage that glimmers with implications as it seethes with gossamer vitality. Harmonic passages are tinged with evocative substance.” –Reviewed by Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity, www.soniccuriosity.com
“a Great album. calmful and dark beauty, Highly Recommended!” –Parallel Worlds, on the Hypnos Forum
“In crafting a sonic narrative of the journey from life to afterlife, Numina has created a listening experience that is utterly immersive, a set of pieces that pull you in so deeply that trying to find adequate words for them once you’ve surfaced is difficult. This is signature Numina, moving as slowly as sleeping breath, elegant layers laid thickly upon layers with a certain and graceful hand. Sound textures course across the skin and into the spirit, coaxing the listener with warmth, beauty and imagery. This is the sound of the soul departing, and the sense of the journey itself. Rhythms rise only where they’re needed, as in the dramatic push of “Through the Unseen Barrier.” Shift… is heavy with well-realized aural scenery and emotive tones that fully suit Numina’s intent. The slightly serrated drift of “Arrival to Nowhere” points up the disk’s embrace of dark awe, and “Light Travelling” celebrates the upward release from being with some intriguing sonic turbulence. Who knew crossing over felt this good? There’s a distinct sense of the sacred here in hushed hymnal tones and choral whispers. There is the pull of coerced introspection, and a pure, overarching beauty. There’s not a moment on this disk that isn’t eminently listenable, down to the final quiet exhalations of the gorgeous closer, “The Hostless Ghost.” And that’s why Shift to the Ghost is another Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD from Numina.”–Reviewed by John @ Hypnogogue
Chad Hoefler – Twilight in the Offing
This is the Hypnos debut, and in fact the CD release debut, of an fantastic new ambient music artist. It’s one of those rare, special debuts that immediately designates the artist as important and worth watching. Twilight in the Offing is the work of a mature and experienced artist, with a sonic variety and depth that stand up next to the best of the ambient/space music genre. We’re very proud of this release, and excited to be the first to bring you the work of Chad Hoefler.
As the title of my debut CD, Twilight In The Offing, metaphorically suggests, this 7 track, 1 hour long CD represents my attempt to sonically capture the concept of inevitability. I endeavored to use track titles that portray the muse for this work: the inescapable fact that darkness follows dusk (at least in the vast majority of places on this planet), that fall and winter follow summer, and that the expiration of life is the ultimate certainty. Tracks vary widely from one another from deep and dark orchestral soundscapes with tribal percussion to floating sonic surrealism to abstract, pensive soundworlds. If I had to compare the genre of this work to the genres of other ambient artists, I would say that it belongs to the same family of work represented by the likes of Alio Die, A Produce, Robert Rich, Steve Roach, etc.”
“Overall, I must repeat that this is some of the best music that I have mastered in a long time. I don’t say that lightly. Your sense of dynamics, patient timing and spaciousness makes for a very well-crafted work.” –Robert Rich
“…a brilliant debut release! And I mean Brilliant. Musical skill of this kind comes from the bones, it can’t be learned. The CD has a lot of familiar flavors, but nothing distinct or recognizable. Like a fine, complex wine. Musically, the CD is wonderfully dense and saturated, but is clear in purpose and design. The compositions are never muddy or crammed.
It is an amazing debut worthy of everyone’s attention. Regardless of your preferences in style, Twilight has something for everyone… electronics, blended with tribal beats, blended with floating pads blended with enough darkness to make it edgy… this CD carries it all with masterful precision.
The CD just seeps with solid, elegant production values. You can hear Robert’s subtle mastering style all over it, but obviously Chad’s skill as a musician and audio designer make the compositions work in the first place. This is a CD for headphones. I cannot recommend enough that people try this CD out. It is a very visceral, complex and noteworthy body of music that is to significant to miss out on! PUT IT ON YOUR MUST BUY LIST!” –Reviewed by Jeff Kowal (aka Terra Ambient) on the Hypnos Forum
“Twilight in the Offing (60’27”), the debut album by Chad Hoefler, deals with our inescapable encounter with Truth. The 7 tracks exist as leviathans within this album’s soundworld; to warn listeners of the approaching night. With its Godzilla size drones representing a mounting tension and cavernously deep reverberations revealing a nervous restlessness, Twilight in the Offing is more about the rising darkness than it is the coming dawn. This work makes heat through its crosscurrent of turbulent electronic soundwaves. The line of each piece uncoils, surges and swells into a sustained density. Breathing drones and murmuring sonic prominences intensify the listening experience. Hoefler’s mood ranges from that of a charred hellscape to the closing moments of a rapturous dream, somehow echoed into the world. Material is a reaction to form. Here, the sound design provides a brief space in which to contemplate transition. While sounds mingle like moving shadows in the dark, we consider the proportion of material to length, and that which is beyond twilight, and our lives.” –Chuck VanZyl, Star’s End Radio
Paul Vnuk Jr. & Oophoi – Distance to Zero
This recording works in roughly the same “slow drone” territory explored by Vnuk and Oophoi on their solo Hypnos releases, Silence Speaks in Shadows and Athlit, respectively. At the same time, it has a different sonic character, at times slow and dark and smooth, but at other moments bright and modern and metallic. Distance to Zero could fairly be described as some of the most daring and experimental work by either artist… a true surprise to these ears when the demo arrived here at Hypnos HQ. It definitely has an “edge” to it, though it’s still definitely easy and smooth listening. I have no doubt this will be a much-loved and much-discussed Hypnos release, and a significant milestone in the discography of both Vnuk and Oophoi.
Vnuk’s Silence Speaks in Shadows and Oophoi’s Athlit are two of the best-loved releases on Hypnos, and now these two great artists have combined their creative and sound-sculpting powers for a new work!
“…a recording that might well be described as more exploratory work by established artists is Distance to Zero, a collab between old hands Paul Vnuk Jr. + Oöphoi that crept out late in ‘06. And crept is an apt word, for this is a surprisingly creepy set. They operate in similar slow drone territory to their last solo Hypnos releases, Silence Speaks in Shadows and Athlit, respectively. Yet their communion results in a work with a quite esoteric sonic character. More arcane and less harmonically resolved than anything Vnuk has done, and near the netherworld lights at the end of Oöphoi’s world, it definitely has a spooky eldritch undertow to it, especially on the unsettling opener, “Distance to Zero I.” “Distance to Zero II” contains recognizable elements of their individual work, notably Gasparetti’s palaeontology with Tau Ceti on Subterranea, evidenced in some trademark suspended bowl-sounds and steepling toneclouds, atavistic rumblings and abyss-hinting upsurges. This is well augmented by Vnuk’s orchestrations of the peripheral familiar from Silence Speaks, dwelling at the threshhold of static sub-vocal drone-float while channelling some eerie chthonics. The sound architecture is certainly denser and chewier than most of Oöphoi’s recent discs, and more timbrally varied, with Vnuk’s influence also apparent in the static grain that occasionally creeps in at the outer limits. Smooth but smudged, with hints of a processed distillate of metal machine music, Distance to Zero evolves weightily but actively, offering a sustaining richness of texture. Do not think of filing anywhere near “new age,” or even “ethereal.” Maybe under “atmospheric electronic” with a touch of “earthen” edge.”
–Reviewed by Alan Lockett for ei-mag.com
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