It’s tempting to categorize Jacco Gardner by the scope of his musical instruments. Hypnophobia features a Wurlitzer electric piano, mellotrons, harpsichords, an obscure, ancient Optigan, an antique Steinway upright — these are relics of a particular nature, hand-selected and played to achieve a baroque pop period piece. Initial single “Find Yourself,” its trippy video, and the title track confirmed the record’s exploration of a retro-psych wonderland. But it’s not all acid trips, and moments of real introspection appear.
Listening to the full album expands Gardner’s scope considerably; there’s “Make Me See,” a quiet, unexpected songwriter number that barely lasts a minute and a half. Or “Grey Lanes,” an almost pastoral, instrumental lullaby that only gets electronic toward the tail-end. On Hypnophobia, Gardner takes psychedelia and twists it to suit his idea of what blissed-out baroque should be. If late-’70s residents of Laurel Canyon re-imagined themselves 40+ years later with an expanse of antique instruments, they probably couldn’t have done a better job than Gardner has of creating their own modern, alternate reality. It’s a heady, hypnotizing look at the past through the always rose-colored glasses of the present. Backward glances rarely sound this good though, so stream the whole thing below via HypeMachine.
Hynophobia is out 5/5 via Polyvinyl.