Hypnodrone Ensemble – The Shape Of Space

Hypnodrone Ensemble - The Shape Of Space

Hypnodrone Ensemble – The Shape Of Space

After a previous four-album series from the Little Crackd Rabbit imprint that ran from late-2013 to late-2014 – which yielded particularly impressive wares from A.R.C. Soundtracks and P.J. Philipson – comes the first in another run of four CDs to appear over the next year or so.  Whilst the second studio set from the divine Brave Timbers and possibly an off-piste affair from ex-Come veteran Chris Brokaw are due to form part of the latest LCR quadrilogy, this second volume begins with the sophomore long-player from Hypnodrone Ensemble (also released on vinyl via Calostro Recordings), a sextet co-led by relentlessly productive Canadian polymath Aidan Baker (Nadja, Caudal et al.).

Whilst Baker is joined on standing-up duties by fellow guitarist Eric Quach (AKA Thisquietarmy) and bassist Gareth Sweeney, this second Hypnodrone Ensemble collection is (nearly) all about the drums.  With drummers David Dunnett, Jérémie Mortier and Felipe Salazar all locked into live percussion formation to both drive and underpin the two lengthy semi-improvised space-rock explorations that make up The Shape Of Space, this an uncompromising yet purposeful wordless odyssey that makes its presence felt assuredly in a currently very crowded musical field.

The opening “Elliptical / Hyperbolic” is as the split-title suggests a piece of two personas; being both meditative and menacing.  Hence it begins as a FX-drenched slow-motion dronescape that is steadily overlaid with three-pronged martial drums, which then bleeds into a second sequence wherein the rhythm section steadily cranks in an aggressively dark motorik groove and the guitars are heavily-smeared with ‘80s 4AD gauziness, before decelerating to push back and forth between waves of ethereality and fuzzy discordance.

For the almost as lengthy “Euclidian / Dodecahedral” the shift across movements is more uniform. The first ten or so minutes fuse together a prowling bass-line, trance-like cymbal-splashing drums and liquidised guitars layers.  For the second half, the drums return to the fore for a skittering and pounding post-Krautrock work-out that imagines Can’s Jaki Liebezeit jamming with Tortoise’s John McEntire and Slint’s Britt Walford – which is almost as good as it sounds.

Overall, The Shape Of Space makes for a dense and overwhelming construction but it’s certainly one built with carefully sculpted intent to sustain attention.  Ultimately, it will appeal mainly to the inherited fan-bases of the leading band members, yet those who enjoyed Watter’s This World from last year or who just can’t get enough of the psyche-rock wares dominating the latter-day Thrill Jockey catalogue should also investigate.

Little Crackd Rabbit (CD) / Calostro Recordings (vinyl)