Posts Tagged ‘Hypnophobia’

Jacco Gardner playing the Heineken tent at Lowlands 2015, 

Jacco Gardner’s debut album, “Cabinet of Curiosities”, the evening became just that, full of detailed quirks and psychedelic discovery. Jacco Gardner’s sixties’ influences, laden with baroque pop and epic psychedelia, shone brightly through the band’s set. Clear the Air was full of enough whimsy and jaunty bursts of wurlitzer organ sounds and  harpsichordal keys to rival bands like the Zombies. Also I could hear sounds of Arthur Lees Love.

The modest audience was immersed in Gardner’s modern take on psychedelia. The multi-instrumentalist’s performance became as intricate and elaborate as his recordings, but naturally, those tiny extra details were sometimes lost on stage. It was the bigger tracks, swelling the room, which revived the set.

Tales of hazy days and slain dragons created larger-than-life pictures and a shield of comfort for Gardner’s timid, ethereal vocals, with Another You’s unsettling synth whistling through tubular basslines and syrupy harmonies.

00:00 Hypnophobia
4:36 Clear The Air
8:07 Summer’s Game
11:07 Notus
14:10 Face To Face
17:32 House On The Moon
22:04 Another You
26:10 Outside Forever
29:20 Puppets Dangling
33:05 Chameleon
36:58 The Ballad Of Little Jane
41:31 Find Yourself
44:50 Lullaby
54:36 Where Will You Go

Jacco Gardner performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded June 25, 2015.

Clear The Air
Face To Face
Find Yourself

Jacco Gardner was born in the late 80s but sounds as though he came of age in the late 60s. It’s a very specific late 60s that he evokes on his debut album, Cabinet of Curiosities: the ornate, lushly orchestrated, psych-inflected “soft rock” or “baroque pop” of British groups such as Nirvana and the Zombies, and American bands such as the Millennium and Sagittarius. Actually, the latter pair were the project names of one man, Curt Boettcher. Boettcher was a singer, songwriter, musician and producer who took the idea of Brian Wilson at his most studio-focused and the Beatles’ own post-1966, no-touring, studio-only ethos to the extreme.

These are the models for this 24-year-old from the Netherlands: as Gardner explains, those “mostly studio projects where the songwriter or artist also took over the role of producer and could really start experimenting and work out everything they could think of themselves. Important artists/producers in this genre would be Curt Boettcher, Billy Nicholls, Syd-era Pink Floyd, the Zombies, Brian Wilson and Love.” Gardner recorded and engineered Cabinet of Curiosities at his Shadow Shoppe Studio in Holland, playing every instrument himself save the drums, having mastered recorder, clarinet, bass, guitar, keyboards and violin as a child. As an adult he also appears to have got to grips with the harpsichord, mellotron, flute and organ, because they’re all part of his chamber-pop palette.

He hasn’t just got the instrumentation and overall sound right, using all the right analogue equipment. He’s got the right voice as well.

No sophomore slump or ‘more of the same’ follow up here from Jacco Gardner. His debut “Cabinet Of Curiosities” (on the esteemed Trouble in Mind label) was a kaleidoscopic pop gem, the sort of album which most artists would be more than happy to replicate on a sophomore release, but with “Hypnophobia”, Jacco Gardner proves himself to be more ambitious than the majority of his peers.

The striking sleeve art is the work of Julian House, famed for his Broadcast covers, as well as his work for ‘hauntology’ label Ghost Box. An odd pick for the sort of music that Gardner has previously made, but an ideal choice for the expanded palette on display here.

Let’s be clear; Gardner hasn’t dropped the Zombies style psychedelic baroque pop angle which earned him so many fans on “Cabinet of Curiosities”. What he’s done is broaden the field of presentation to incorporate, cinematic, progressive and radiophonic elements, while retaining the ear candy hooks. On the title track there’s a Broadcast like approach to hypnotic Radiophonia, which contextualises the choice of sleeve artist and makes a whole lot of sense. Gardner, ever the musical magpie, has no problem integrating these shiny, in vogue references into his songs in a thoroughly natural fashion. “Before the Dawn”, similarly borrows from krauty prog rock, and gives it a fresh, melodic spin. And for those worried about style over substance, there are more stripped back songs like “Face to Face”, which demonstrate troubadourial tendencies that favourably recall Elliott Smith. Not a real word perhaps, but one that fits the bill here.

Jacco Gardner had total control over this record, playing everything but drums, and it shows. There’s a cohesion and unity here that’s just not possible to create when trying to communicate a vision to a bunch of other musicians, no matter how similarly inclined.

It’ll be interesting to see where Jacco goes from here, retreating further into his seemingly limitless imagination, or opening the doors to something more collaborative. It’s hard to imagine him bettering “Hypnophobia” with the former approach.

Its a definite recommended album purchase.


Jacco Gardner is a neo-psych/baroque pop artist from the Netherlands. Like his debut album. 2013’s underground favourite “Cabinet of Curiosities”, Jacco Gardner’s new full-length was recorded at his home studio in a quiet village 40 minutes north of Amsterdam. Handling nearly all of the instruments (including vintage Wurlitzer and mellotron) himself, Gardner creates a collection of “catchy, baroque-psych concoctions” that “plays like a daydream twisted through Joe Meek-esque production”
Jacco Gardner will be playing the Bodega social later this year