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Album Review

Matt Choboter's Hypnopompia: Sleep Inertia


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Matt Choboter's Hypnopompia: Sleep Inertia
In keeping with its title, these eight tracks of just over fifty-minutes comprise a waking/sleeping dreamscape where conscious thoughts crystallize. then turn amorphous in an engrossing cyclical pattern. The fourteen or so minutes of the two-part "Converging Diverging" elucidate the most literal instrumental explication of the concept: replete with far too much ornate detail to fit the description of free jazz, the musicianship nevertheless radiates an abiding spontaneity with all instrumental commentary and elaboration/embellishment from around the quintet.

Canadian pianist, composer and bandleader Matt Choboter's ringing notes generally sets the tone and pace on any given track. The atmosphere arising therefrom, be it clear or cloudy, cutting or comforting (as on this titletune) becomes altogether fascinating to follow as the other players then chime in; including quite prominently Francois Houle on clarinet and electronics, the lineup is ultra-sensitive to the action and motion of their comrades, marshaling their collective resources as on the aforementioned two-parter or simply adding judicious accents to the opening cut "Knecht."

Close listening reveals how the arrangements, such as they are so seemingly spontaneous, mirror the sleeping/waking cycle and the emergence from it or descent into it. During any given hearing, vivid imagery in titles like "Pagan Rainmaker" and "Goldmund's Chautauqua" only spur the mind on beyond mere reverie, nearly into an interactive mode of listening. The coalescence of concrete thought, however, is no more readily apparent than the dissolution of mental clarity: even on the abbreviated likes of "Narcissus," Choboter would seem to be suggesting each state has its advantages and disadvantages, rewards and drawbacks, at any given point.

Certainly repeated exposure to these pieces substantiate the veracity of that notion. Or at least as much as close perusal generates an appreciation of the carefully-parsed nuance(s) of these five musicians, all of whom except drummer/percussionist Andrew Thomson contribute electronics of some kind (Choboter himself chips in what are credited as 'drone collages'). As often as not, however, the latter's rhythmic input is comparably subliminal, in concert with bassist James Meger's electric or acoustic instrument: absorbing the duo's work is more than a little akin to hearing one's heartbeat. Meanwhile, the various layers of sound, including the aforementioned sonic backdrops, represent nothing so much as a graphic depiction of brain patterns.

For all intents and purposes a sequel to Anima Revisited (ILK Music, 2021) by Matt Choboter's similarly concevied and named ensemble Hypnagogia, the audio here so carefully recorded and mixed by John Raham simultaneously reflects and renders tangible those very mental/psychic states upon which it's based. Consequently, this is most addictive stuff, its effect all the more deep because cuts like "Teslin Lake" belie the conventional notion of what's infectious.

Track Listing

Knecht; Converging Diverging Part I; Converging Diverging Part II; Pagan Rainmaker; Sleep Inertia; Narcissus; Teslin Lake; Goldmund's Chatauqua.


Matt Choboter: piano; Francois Houle: clarinet; Jacob Wiens: guitar; James Meger: bass, acoustic; Andrew Thomson: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Matt Choboter: preparations, drone collages; Francois Houle: electronics; Jacob Wiens: electronics; James Meger: electric bass, electronics; Andrew Thomson: percussion.

Album information

Title: Sleep Inertia | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Songlines Recordings

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