This may not take the form of a traditional review, as this is an album that leaves more questions than it answers like, what is this? Why is this? Is this actually some kind of avant-garde art project taking the form of an unassuming album? In reality, Hypochristmutreefuzz hail from Belgium with a name deriving from a jazz piece from composer Misha Mengelberg and a sound that smashes noise-rock, hard rock, electronica, hip-hop and pop onto a post-punk backbone for some freakish mutant of a sound that’s genuinely unlike anything you’ll have heard before. No hyperbole here, this is a band who’ve actually gone and created a completely unique composite sound.
That’s part of the reason why their debut Hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (the fear of long words, fact fans) is so hard to cover, mainly because, where do you actually start? Maybe the fact that frontman Ramses van Den Eede sits between being confrontational, twisted and utterly demented basically across the board, whether it’s the scream-raps of Mitochondria, the woozy caress of Chromakalim that starts off by appropriating the melody from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or Clammy Hands where his delivery alternates between confusing on the verses to stomach-churning on the chorus. Maybe the fact that the album spazzes out between numerous styles per song with little regard for how well it works, or even whether it should work. Maybe the fact that, even with deeper analysis, these lyrics often seem more like the discordant inner machinations of a psychopath than anything deliberately designed to be put on wax. Even with acts like Death Grips or the Butthole Surfers that Hypochristmutreefuzz have been compared to, there’s at least a through-line through their work that can be traced across an album, which is more than can be said for the anarchistic collage that is Hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.
But coming to the main point – is it any good? Well, again, that’s hard to determine. It’s certainly listenable, especially with tracks like One Trick Pony with its cantering bassline beneath its drum ‘n’ bass beat. But is this an album designed to be listenable? Tracks like the squawking Elephantiasis with its crushed guitar line and constantly distorted vocals, or the really quite repulsive Clammy Hands would say it’s not, but it would be a lie to say that this album isn’t enjoyable at points, especially when it hits a smoother, more melodic patch. But circling back to whether that was the intention, even if this is designed as an objectively unejoyable album, to find any sort of enjoyment in it would mean it ultimately fails in its purpose. Then again, so does the opposite.
That’s why Hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is essentially an impossible album to review, in that it’s so full of contradictions that any final decision is likely to be wrong by some capacity. Even if that’s true about every other album, this one feels as though it goes out of its way to hammer that home. That’s why it feels wrong to give this album a score, but not to recommend it. After all, a band as fascinating as Hypochristmutreefuzz shouldn’t go unnoticed, and an album like this needs be heard if only to attempt to comprehend it.
For fans of: Death Grips, Butthole Surfers, Pere Ubu
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Hypopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia’ by Hypochristmutreefuzz is released on 11th August.