Release date: 19th November 2018
Berlin based Brit BNJMN returns to Delsin for his first full length album with the label, Hypnagogia. After releasing EPs like Coil and Amygdala on Delsin, BNJMN has completed his first full body of work since Black Square on Rush Hour in 2011. BNJMN (born Ben Thomas) has done everything from strangely melodic music to darker drone-like pieces and uplifting lighter techno in the past few years, with tunes like Droid on Delsin’s Inertia series establishing him as one of techno’s most intersting voices. Supported by the likes of Daniel Avery, Truncate, Laurent Garnier and Svreca, among many others, Hypnagogia proves to be BNJMN’s finest work to date as well as one of the best records of the year.
Atoms Speak opens with somber swells which hang gracefully over a pensive beat. Cold melodies play over echoing claps and distant hi hats to start Hypnagogia with a contemplative, atmospheric tone.
Swarm increases the tempo with a hypnotic beat and percussive sounding melodies interweaved into one another. Calmative inflections combine with this entrancing beat to create a captivating hypnotic techno piece. Glowed,an ambient track with icy billowing shades of sound, echoes the mood of Atom Speak. BNJMN crafts serenity with rising melodies reaching a natural plateau before retreating back to their origin.
Titan Dome shows off BNJMN’s ability to craft a track directed towards the dance-floor while maintaining his own unique identity as a producer. Vaporous melodies are repeated to create a hypnotic backdrop on which BNJMN expertly juxtaposes the soft edges of melody with the tight mechanics of pulsating rhythms.
Hypnagogia Pt.1 has a minimal, hypnotic beat pattern which slowly gains momentum by BNJMN introducing delicate hi end percussion. Distant melodies slowly become more central to the piece,setting a more dark and melancholy tone than previously seen on the record. BNJMN increases the tempo towards the end of the song with a more 4×4 approach to rhythmic structure, making the track the perfect instrument to transition from hypnotic to more club-ready techno in a DJ set.
Theta Wave shows BNJMN’s ability to go deeper into the hypnotic techno sound without compromising on accessibility. Heavier in nature than the previous tracks on the record, this polarising track is divisive and intentionally disrupts the spell that BNJMN has cast upon the listener. Soft, expansive chords are changed for rigid, compact sounds with tighter percussion; creating a more anxious and jittery aura.
Indub builds upon the hypnotic tones of Theta Wave, but is much less anxious in sound. BNJMN constructs a tapestry of samples and sounds that are soothing to the listener following the intensity of Theta Wave. The choice of sounds here by BNJMN is something to be praised; with a similarity being drawn between him and Hyperdub’s Burial in using samples to create a unique air to their own work.
Moth Lines again shows BNJMN’s talent for making fascinating and alluring ambient pieces. Ideally placed, this piece notifies the listener they are embarking on the final leg of the record.
Hypnagogia Pt. 2 has a more commanding beat from the beginning, with a dark, tighter melody compressing the expansive ambience that was heard in Pt.1. A staid swell is added to the mix to soften the edges, with melodic rigid rhythmic elements laying down a solid framework. An acid bass line is layered over the kick, resulting in a wonderful combination of atmospheric and club-ready techno. The track has an air of closure to it; the focal point which exhibits all of BNJMN’s skills as a songwriter in one piece. Pt.2 shows BNJMN’s talent for merging different styles of techno to make a sound solely unique to him.
Over White Peaks is an ambient piece that grows in intensity as it progresses. The combination of atmosphere and intensity here sound like the spirit of Hypnagogia mounting to a final climax before regressing into itself for its destruction.
Hypnagogia was written by Ben Thomas in two separate studios in Berlin. BNJMN’s work is reflected by the spaces he records his work in; the tracks recorded in his smaller studio result in a much tighter and intimate sound whereas the those recorded in the larger studio are expansive and dynamic. The record was influenced by the feeling of hypnagogia by BNJMN who said “I’m often quite lucid at night time and I feel a lot of my ideas come from those experiences, so I wanted to present an album that sounds more dreamlike than some of my previous works.”
Delsin seems to be the perfect home for BNJMN, with Hypnagogia fitting their dynamic of hypnotic and deep atmospheric techno perfectly. Fans of Sawlin and Benjamin Damage would find this record a great addition to their collection. At no point does BNJMN stay on one path too long, making the record an enjoyable listen as well as a diverse collection of tracks to choose from for DJs. Highlights such as Swarm, Titan Dome, Indub and Hypnagogia Pt. 2 show BNJMN’s ability to make club ready tracks that do not compromise on aesthetic. Hypnotic rhythms and sounds are blended remarkably with moody auras to create a sound that is unique to BNJMN. Seven years in the making; Hypnagogia is a true work of art.