Spearheaded by James Dean Brown (also known from Perlon’s Narcotic Syntax) and Victor Sol, and featuring other rotating members, Hypnobeat is a true product of the open-ended spirit of DIY music that proliferated in the 1980s. The prescient project championed deft, machine-powered rhythm programming as its modus operandi long before the practice would become a dominant global cultural form. Since Hypnobeat was revived in 2012 with Helena Hauff joining JDB on stage for improvised live performances based on one 707 and three 808s, there have been a string of archival releases shining a light on the early and more recently recorded works of this forward-thinking venture.
This latest collection for Artificial Dance comprises three freshly unearthed iterations. Long-form A-side track “Polychrome Desert” is a pure percussive exercise, programmed and recorded by JDB in 1986 with a chain of three 808s filling out a stereo panorama. The intention was to create a pure, meditative rhythm drawing on African influences and reinterpreted through what was then the music technology of the future. “Spies In Malaysia” is a live recording from a concert Hypnobeat performed in 1985. Its lurid melodic passages and crunchy percussive blasts formed the closing track of the set, which was met with rapturous response. Recorded in the same year, “Sumatra Railway” was the product of an impromptu session between JDB and Victor Sol. The song finds the pair exploring a more shadowy, surf-inspired sound, laden with echo and freewheeling through seven minutes of sun-kissed, subtly tropical subversion.
With each successive release, the plot surrounding Hypnobeat thickens in a tangle of 1/4” jack cables and ancient effect pedals. From its shifting line-up to the diverse sonic repertoire, it remains one of the wondrous plants of German electronic music in the pre-techno era.