Friday, 23 August 2019

Hypnagogue - Eon

Album: Eon
Artist: Hypnagogue
Label: Nailed Nazarene Industries
Catalogue no: N/A

     1.      Convulsed
     2.      Shadespace

Eon is the latest experimental/abstract ambient offering from Nicholas Medone from Italy's Hypnagogue, and this constitutes my first encounter with the project, and it certainly won’t be my last. The two side-length tracks delve into hellish, darkly esoteric soundscapes using nothing more than taking the familiar and transposing them into something less comfortable and identifiable, shifting the narrow contexts normally associated with them, and creating wholly alien and claustrophobic, airless vistas. In particular, Eon rinses such familiarity in the raging waters of filth and contamination, to produce a set of compositions that are unsettling, harrowing, and teeth-grindingly unnerving without going down the route of exaggeration and bluster.

‘Convulsed’ is a loop of crackling pops burning against a backdrop of a faint metallic ringing. This isn’t a cosy picture of people congregated around a campfire, however: instead that faintly alarming background ringing does nothing to reassure you, raising the hairs on the back of your neck. There’s a subtle industrial feel to this, an oiled and well-greased mechanical malice that permeates every nook and cranny, a smell of blooded steel and iron accompanied by the stink of death. Perhaps this is the aftermath of ruthless and mechanised massacre and bloodshed, and perhaps that crackling is an orchestra of funeral pyres, singing of ash and scorched bone, incinerated hopes, and the smouldering remains of hubris. Columns of black smoke rise up into an empty, greyly ashen, cloud-filled sky, where not even carrion birds are present.

And now, on ‘Shadespace’, the skies have opened and the blackened, acidulated deluge pours down in torrents, an attempt perhaps to wash away the sins and scars of the battle. A mournful drone accompanies the rain, a lament perhaps for the dead, for what’s left behind, and for a future that’s been forever lost. Blood and ash run in rivulets, the smoky remains of the pyres are dampened, and the soil is enriched from the vain attempts of blood and flesh to stand against the forces of industrialised warfare. It’s as if nature itself is weeping.

It’s an art to take what are essentially two basic streams of sound, one strand of which is familiar, normal, and commonplace, and the other an artificial counterpoint, that in combination manage to invest the results with such power and a deeply dread, malign atmosphere. Both tracks are subliminally oppressive: it’s only when you really dive into and recognise the richness on offer here that you understand the darkness and decadence it represents. Both can be classified as warnings and laments – a warning that this could be our estate if we’re not careful and a lament for the fact that we’ve allowed it get this far in the first place. This says far more to me than any number of protest songs, or grimy, granular noise blasts ever could. Its sparseness is what elevates it above the formulaic, and consequently it delivers a frisson of dismay and horror all the more emphatic. There’s a rare talent at work here, at least in the opinion of this reviewer. Eon seeped into my consciousness far more than I imagined it would and, given the chaos of the present, opened up some not too pleasant scenarios. For those who love their experimentation and abstraction tinted in thoroughly nihilistic hues.

Available as a digital download from here:

Psymon Marshall 2019. 

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