02 Wandering River
03 Whisper Before Sleep
05 Secret Wave
The world is getting smaller and smaller everyday it seems. Nowadays, when you read something on the web or listen to a new demo MP3 track or CD, you can’t be too sure about from where it’s emanating. You could be in your room in the middle of Kansas and in a matter of seconds be rocking out to some ultra black-death-metal from Norway or start a game of GO! (Reversi) and end up playing with other players from Hong Kong or Spain or Uganda, etc. That’s why, for one thing, it’s such a great time to be involved in making music.
Take the Russian band Hypnoz. They’re invading your headphones from halfway across the world! The latest CD, Breath of Earth, is a wonderful and amazing vision of light; a muscle-lightening, pressure-easing album that, during overwhelming times, can make life a little bit more worth living. Hypnoz is the brainchild of one man. Dmitri Zubov, a native of a Moscow suburb called Fryazino, whose been at this gig for almost two decades now, having crafted his first EP in 1993, when he wrote his first “composition”. Since then, Dmitri’s been schlepping around, recording a few homemade CD-Rs, which were all culled together for his one previous full-length release that was released on Insofar Vapor Bulk. Zubov’s also participated in “Iznutri” compilation CD which was put out by the Ewers Tonkunst label.
The foundation for Breath of Earth was laid down by Zubov, with great assistance from his cohort Evgeny Voronovsky. These were done during late night freak-out sessions, where they’d brainstorm and work a little more, constantly tweaking the most subtle of the finest points. Its musical analog is easily ambient. There is no discordant, atonal testing of one’s nerves with machine noises and loud, warlike punches of sound. The whole album, from beginning to end is a quiet, mood piece. While not an endless repetitive drone, Hypnoz’s Breath of Earth manages to instill peace and to help clear one’s busy head of those pesky racing thoughts. It’s just up to you, the listener, to do the right thing with the CD.
While not an overly or even overtly sad or melancholy album, Breath of Earth still manages to evoke that Russian mystique - think of the quiet desperation that was stuffing down raging hatred and longing for vengeance against a cruel regime that would keep its people in such poverty while that Tsar frolicked in the stately, ornate palaces that were far removed from the awful, disease-infested, poverty-wrecked “peasants” of the rest of Russia. That is the period when great Russian artists and writers started appearing - Dostoevsky, Gogol, Turgenev, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, the just-passed Solzhenitsyn and the great filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein. This CD continues in that long tradition of brilliant Russian arts & literature.
While not filled with the desperation or depression and repression of some of their predecessors, Hypnoz nevertheless manages to evoke an Eastern European theater of the mind that evokes images of barren, quiet leas in the middle of nowhere, the giant wasteland that is Siberia and at last, the sheer vastness of space in that country - I mean, it’s got 11 time zones, if that tells you something.
The music is not melancholy or sad, possibly portending a new sort of attitude in Russia. It’s a mellow but colorful and vivid, cutting endless intricate designs in the frozen lakes of the northern regions. There is a rush to the breathy sounds of the synthesizers, sequencers, etc, a thin, constantly oscillating electric machine.
The last three songs, though, have to be the most memorable part of the album, just because that is where it is left off and that is also where it starts to pick up a little: “Secret Wave”, “Water” and “Earth” finish off what was a brilliant star of a record in the night sky of DIY, indie and underground experimenters.