Review: Savvas Metaxas – Hypnos (Coherent States, Jan 28)

Hypnos is the sound of tension, a spiderweb of stretched strings that hum, vibrate, and rattle. This is not to say that Greek artist Savvas Metaxas’ palette was limited to just materials commonly thought of as tensile; instead, he sculpts straining, groaning structures from modular synth and and processed percussion samples to complement the restless scratches of a piano’s inner strings. The hooks that adorn the album cover aren’t just for show—Hypnos takes a step past intense aural immersion into an almost physical domain, trapping the listener in its claustrophobic, carefully woven tunnels. Don’t be put off by the spoken word intro, which took a while to win me over; the sound-world of Hypnos is much more adventurous and ambitious than its opening moments would lead you to believe, and by the time concluding track “Morpheus” rolls around the female vocals are back, this time providing a spectral counterpoint to the shifting mixtures of sound, bookending the tape with hints of escape from its visceral, unsettling intensity. Even just the masterful construction of this work warrants a listen—it’s one of those albums that can only be fully explored after the initial intimidation its density invokes—but I’d go so far as to say that there’s something here for everyone.

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