Hypomanie - Calm Down, You Weren't Set On Fire (Valse Sinistre Records)

Tell that to the monk on the Rage Against The Machine album cover...
Release Date: 
1 Apr 2012 - 11:30pm

Our MaF editor doesn't make life easy for me: "Review this freakish release; review that impossible-to-classify album, check out this bizarre album for our readers" - the list of strangeness is long and just to make things even more interesting our lovely editor has sent me Hypomanie's delightfully titled third album Calm Down, You Weren't Set On Fire. (Stop moaning - 'I don't know what he's on about' Ed.)Hailing from the Netherlands, Hypomanie apparently has a black metal background but you'd be hard pushed to pick up on that with CDYWSOF.

Do you like black-gaze? Do you even know what it is? Well, you know how ambient music isn't metal enough for some? My cynical theory is that if you prefix it with 'dark' then you get dark-ambient and that somehow makes it more acceptable for some people. Don't like 'shoe-gaze' music? Drop the 'shoe' and prefix it with 'black' and hey presto! Something the alternative kids can get into without being shamed up by the fact that it's 'shoe-gaze' or 'ambient' or whatever...

But anyway, regardless of what you call it, Hypomanie's latest offering is a beautifully arranged album for wallowing in self-pity to. It's not heavy but it is a soothing soundtrack to ponder your own self-worth while staring at your bootlaces/navel/slip on penny loafers. I think the press blurb sums it up quite spectacularly; "Slow building instrumental crystalline post rock, soaring and epic and emotional, oozing with glistening melodic shimmer, wreathed in warm sonic swirls." - yes, it sounds like something off the menu of a fancy, pretentious restaurant but as descriptions go, it does the trick. Gorgeously titled tracks like If Only The Seas Were Merciful and You Never Listened To The Birds will evoke the pain of past shattered relationships as you contemplate where it all went wrong to the strains of this orchestral album. Why did I do that <insert bad thing here>? Can I ever become a better person? Am I merely a collection of memories or something infinitely more? Where did I leave that half-eaten Mars bar? You too can ponder the big (and not so big) questions as you sink lower and lower into introspective reverie with Hypomanie accompanying you on the descent. Each composition is a twinkling star that caresses the ear, a rising crescendo, wave-like as it breaks across your senses, casting up a thousand shattered memories. It's very mellow too so alternatively you can just lay back on some soft pillows and enjoy the soothing tracks without imposing any kind of emotional shit on to it. It's your choice.

And it's OK to like it; it's black-gaze.