Review: The Gray Field Recordings - Hypnagogia (2005) 1


artist: The Gray Field Record­ings
release: Hyp­n­ago­gia
format: CD-R, MP3
year of release: 2005 (CD-R), 2006 (MP3)
label: Anti­Clock (CD-R), Woven Wheat Whis­pers (MP3)
dur­a­tion: 42:58

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Hyp­n­ago­gia is the latest album by The Gray Field Record­ings, a solo pro­ject by Amer­ican lady R. The album was ori­gin­ally released in an edi­tion of 123 hand­made CD-Rs by Anti­Clock records, which of course quickly sold out. It was re-released on MP3 this year by Woven Wheat Whis­pers.

What we get on this album is a load of obscure music, with a def­in­ite dark ambi­ent atmo­sphere, but quite ori­ginal. The music is a mix­ture of melod­ies on folk instru­ments, excel­lent spoken word and soft vocals, sampling, sound manip­u­la­tion, and noise ele­ments. Many of the tracks, such as the opener “Blood­stream”, the dis­son­ant “Pre­lude to an Alchem­ical Wed­ding”, “Stars Fall to Earth” and the clos­ing track “Creep­ing” have a strong ritual feel­ing to it, com­bined with a bit of a twis­ted atmo­sphere. Other tracks, not­ably “Nancy’s Song to Charlie” and “Pas­si­flora” - both beau­ti­ful - are more ‘songs’, without los­ing the unique eerie touch that R.‘s music always seems to have. The entire album is very evoc­at­ive, and con­jures up images like sepia pic­tures of wooden houses some­where in the Amer­ican coun­tryside, and their dusty interi­ors. It’s not entirely nos­tal­gic though, because there always seems to be some­thing lurk­ing nearby. You’re never really sure what, but the world revealed by Hyp­n­ago­gia is some­how bizarre and unset­tling, yet strangely beau­ti­ful. The great use of the old coun­try song sample on “You Have Suffered” illus­trates this admir­ably.

An excel­lent exper­i­mental ambi­ent album, with some great frag­ments of song thrown in for good meas­ure. Hyp­n­ago­gia sounds like a half run-down music box, with a hid­den cache of sooth­ing voices and dark sound­scapes. The Gray Field Record­ings truly dis­plays tal­ent on this var­ied release, and I think it is a must for any­one remotely interest in ambi­ent or folk exper­i­ment­a­tion. Well worth your five quid.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Blood­stream (runey moon ver­sion) (4:25)
2. Ring Bells (1:43)
3. House of a Grape (5:51)
4. In Exodus (2:45)
5. Pre­lude to an Alchem­ical Wed­ding (4:41)
6. Forty White Horses (4:36)
7. You Have Suffered (1:40)
8. Nancy’s Song to Charlie (2:52)
9. Stars Fall to Earth (3:09)
10. Pas­si­flora (3:02)
11. Creep­ing (5:49)