Hypernatural, comprises of Dan Whitford, better known as one of the pillars of Melbourne heavyweights Cut Copy, Mirko Vogel, the engineer extraordinaire who has recorded for Modular and Room40, and Mike Gamwell, also known as Knightlife, who's racked up several releases on Cut Copy's own Cutters Records. You could say their roots are in Melbourne, Australia, but it seems unfair to pinpoint the trio to any specific location.
That's because their sound lies somewhere deep in misty forests, or half-remembered dreams and subconscious wells of ancestral emotion. The transformative power of these 7 tracks was no accident however. The music was pieced together during two trips - one to the remote Swedish coast and another to the Scottish highlands. The three producers used a set of guidelines that allowed each of them to compose and arrange tracks separately yet collectively, like a connected Oblique Strategy. They took inspiration from the stark beauty of their natural surroundings, which had a huge effect on the music they were making.
The resulting tracks inhabit a world of their own, full of shimmering arpeggios and drifting pads, taut drums and sound effects. The opening track Longboat cruises into view with white noise washes and galley master rhythms, conjuring Old Norse battleships and a sense of sailing the open sea, destination unknown. The single Stormfront is a depth-charged deep house burner, bristling with atmospheric energy and rolling like thunder. With its cascading synth arpeggios and weighty drops, it swells like moody clouds on the horizon and releases tension like the first rain of a summer storm.
Hypernatural particularly succeeds in its world-building, and there's a cohesion to the tracks despite their many differences in tempo and style. Spirit Walk joins marimbas with modular pulses, as well as slide guitar and snappy shakers, to bring out some Ry Cooder swagger. Unknown Caller taps into the phone line at the speed of 5G, sending breakbeats down the wire on a cold calling mission to recruit ravers for the next after hours. But there are also tracks nodding to blissed-out comedowns and daydreams. Both Changing Tides and New Dawn slow down time to an introspective moment, a catch of the breath, the witness to a beautiful moment. Album closer Valley harks back to classic rave-era ambient, an avalanche of optimism down a majestic mountainside.
Hypernatural evokes panoramic vistas and serene countryside, and you could certainly imagine it soundtracking a hike along coastal hills, or a field at a festival. But it also resides beyond the pastoral, finding a home in airport departure lounges and autobahn service stations, until it eventually settles down inside us - even without the headphones on.