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Jacco Gardner isn't what you'd call a "troubadour"; his apparent shrug to the outside world, chanting about his own inner universe which he populates with invisible synapses, situates him far away from an obvious lyrical folklore heritage and brings us closer to his hallucinogenic imagination than to impersonal, third-person narratives.

No, Jacco Gardner is not a troubadour. An extreme attention to the finer details of the production and orchestration of each and every track he records makes him more of an enchanted master puppeteer who owns a beautiful workshop in which he performs his magic (no wonder his debut album was called Cabinet of Curiosities). For his second full-length venture, Jacco once again dabbles in what has been pompously called "baroque pop", but with a twist. Although his songs seem to keep the magical aura that crowns Cabinet of Curiosities, they are more intricate this time - possessing an infinite number of layers.

Another difference between Cabinet of Curiosities and Hypnophobia is this strange feeling of contempt regarding one's own unavoidable despair, which the latter seems to contain. Even if one may argue that stylistically there's not a massive divide in the progression between the two albums, a thin yet omnipresent veil of inquiétude covers most of Hypnophobia's tracks, turning the ensemble of the LP into an almost visual exercise of self-induced trance. Highlights such as the eight-minute long 'Before the Dawn', or the title-track, are examples of this magnificently luxurious voyage that transcends the here and now, transporting us to Medici's Florence with a Wurlitzer electric piano under our arms.

Yet, if some may accuse Jacco of living in the past, or taking extra advantage of the neo-psych wave which inserted itself within the indie music world a few years ago, it's important to remember that although his music seems to be inspired by late '60s new-folk breakthrough musicians such as Syd Barrett or Nick Drake, he is indeed a child of his time: "I'm so inspired by today's technology that many things I do were not possible in the past."

Having admitted that Hypnophobia "comes from a place where fears, darkness and creativity collide, like a slightly scary lucid dream," one wonders if the album isn't itself a twisted, surreal illustration of that weird limbo state which happens immediately before one falls asleep. With his barrel organ-tailored melodies and ethereal multi-layered vocals, Jacco Gardner is an alchemist who builds a fantasy world of engaging and hypnotic sounds which trigger involuntary impulses in the most hidden corners of our brains, sending us off into a journey throughout the unconscious. And if Jung's theory is in fact correct, he may well be singing about our own.

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