With a list of influences spanning Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine and Neutral Milk Hotel, it’s not exactly difficult to predict the road taken by Hypnosister mastermind Damian Hughes. It’s all even less of a surprise when taking into account his former stint as guitarist for Allusondrugs, a band who, for a good couple of years, were seen as the face of upcoming, fuzzed-up grunge and shoegaze bands in the UK.
But now on his own, Hypnosister as a project sees Hughes consolidating all of those musical touchstones under a moniker that couldn’t be more perfect – it’s dreamlike and coated in psychedelic lucidity, but also a resoundingly warm and familiar experience. What’s more impressive is how much of a defined identity Hughes has already created on just six tracks; the final one or two may prematurely run out of steam compared to the sharpness of everything else, but that tends to be the nature of these sort of psych-influenced projects as it is, and it’s not enough to stop Hypnosister from being a highly gripping project.
And a lot of that is down to variety and how it’s used to augment the EP as a whole rather than to flaunt musical diversity that – in most cases – doesn’t pan out too well. Even while the realms that Hughes draws from have some distance between them, there’s a naturally flowing quality that allows each sound to bounce off each other. So while Breath wallows in a thick, blackened grunge stomp, that darker atmosphere is one that’s still shared by the glittering power-pop of Poorly Boy, or the gentle shoegaze sway of Ghost. Even if not all sounds wholly click with each other (and again, it reaches an extent towards the end of the EP that’s harder to avoid as a flaw), that sense of atmosphere, as well as Hughes’ sharp vocal contributions, still end up blending together and becoming more interesting as a result.
And if this is only a jumping off point for Hypnosister, or even a showcase of what Hughes can accomplish on his own, then there’s definitely enough to warrant keeping an eye out for more in the future. As much as this sort of indie-grunge has become something of a saturated market recently, Hypnosister brings something fresh to the table that doesn’t even feel close to exhausted just yet. There’s something really electrifying here that desperately needs some recognition.
For fans of: Allusondrugs, Darlia, Turbowolf
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Hypnosister’ by Hypnosister is released on 27th July.