There’s been lots of hand-wringing lately over whether the album is dead. The argument is that the format makes less and less sense in a changing world of algorithm-generated shuffle streams and 24-hour content cycles. The strongest rebuttal has been the work of multi-instrumental studio whiz kids (Tame Impala, Mac DeMarco, etc), serial do-it-yourselfers with big record collections and the time and space to put together songs unified in concept and refined in mood.
Hypnophobia is a great record in this tradition – lush, focused and well wrought in a way that channels the Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow as much as Stereolab’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup without seeming too reverent about its predecessors or anachronistic in its execution. The big payoff comes in the form of two back-to-back zoned-out jammers on the last half, Before The Dawn and Hypnophobia.
Resisting the urge to deploy a kind of kitchen-sink maximalism (aka the Rundgren conundrum), these songs relax and float downstream to some sublimely chilled-out bass-and-drum vamping, with Jacco Gardner as Little Nemo, transporting you in a magnificent airship across Slumberland.
Top track: Hypnophobia
Jacco Gardner plays June 17 at the Horseshoe and June 18 at the Silver Dollar as part of NXNE.