Hydr8’s new album “Cymantics” is an experience worth taking in the right setting
Last week I spoke to Gabe Vasichek about the new Hydr8 album and a couple of things stuck out to me — One is that each of the band members, Gabe and Dan Vasichek along with Corey Fisher, have big visions for where the band is headed and are anticipating it growing into something much bigger and more resonant than what anyone could imagine up to this point.
Another is how that vision involves making a Hydr8 show an eclectic musical experience more than just a regular concert.
The band will be offering fans a chance to take in the Hydr8 Experience on Friday at Machinery Row. I will have more about that show including some more from my conversation with Mr. Gabe later this week.
But, firstly let’s take a look at the band’s new album, “Cymantics.”
Overall, I found that the journey you’ll take while listening to Hydr8’s “Cymantics” is a trip worth taking, as long as you have a good idea of what you’re getting into before you start.
Hydr8 really isn’t music fit to play in the background while you’re cleaning your house or if you’re dropping the kids off to soccer practice or visiting with your mom or grandmother.
The best way to take in Hydr8’s music, I’d say, is to listen to it when you have some alone time in a somewhat quiet place to focus on the sounds and little else.
Once you’re in the right setting, the album’s first few tracks, “Water Spirit” and “Plant Chant,” set the tone right away.
It’s experimental, worldly and thoughtful. If you’ve ever been to a Hydr8 show, you’ll recognize the elements at play. Dan’s didgeridoo, Gabe’s deep singing/spoken word vocals and Fisher’s hypnotic keyboard arrangements.
What you might be surprised by is how much more aggressive the music gets about midway through the first track. It appears as if the band has opened up to a more techno sound courtesy of Fisher, and at times it works really well.
There’s times it doesn’t work quite as well, but let’s step through the positives, first.
Firstly, this EP, the band’s third, is quite possibly their best so far. All three of them have seemed to have found a way to maximize their roles. Gabe told me this EP is much more aggressive than the other two, which is something you’ll notice almost right away.
Some of my favorite parts of the record include the long portions of instrumental guitar backed by the didgeridoo and Gabe’s occasional throat singing on “Water Spirit,” the reggae instrumentation to “Plant Chant,” along with the sing-song lyrics from Gabe and the funky keyboard interludes from Fisher.
I also dig how about halfway through “Plant Chant,” the tone suddenly changes and gets even more techno then the first song leading into a slow build led by the keyboard and didgeridoo. I think this moment reminded me a bit of the boat/black light scene in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Not really in terms of the creepy factor but more of the “Whoa. Where are we going now?” kind of feeling.
Which leads nicely into the next track, “OmniScience,” the only one to feature Dan’s trumpet playing.
You could maybe argue that the track is a little too peppy, which is a reflection of what sounds like a simple melody line. If you pay close attention to what Dan’s really playing, however, you’ll find that yes, it does strike you as a bit simple at first, but he’s actually taking that simplicity and expanding upon it to make it into something deeper.
I also love Fisher’s choice of organ and his little loops he throws into the mix, including a stellar shift in tone about three-quarters of the way through that sees just Gabe and Corey vibing off another before Dan enters back into the fray and returns back to the main melody.
Hydr8 is very much a jam band in that it seems as if they could play for hours at a time and you’re never totally sure of what you’ll hear next.
That can be a big plus, but it can also lead to a few issues, too. Most notably in the song “Safety.”
“Safety” is the band’s lengthiest track and is probably a few minutes too long.
Around 1:30, the pace of the song is increased significantly and I felt like Fisher was going a bit too fast for the others, particularly Gabe, who’s singing with his slow and steady growl.
Things get better around the 5-minute mark through about 5:15 as the instrumentation seems to finally sync together. From about 5:35 to 5:45, however, Gabe’s vocals get a little off pitch. He does recover fairly quickly, however.
The song, overall, feels a bit jumbled at times, followed by a few minutes of cohesiveness. It might have helped to condense it and trim a bit more of the fat.
But, after several listens, for me I found it to be the only real problematic track on the album.
I look at that as a real signal of growth for the band. As they get more familiar with their strengths and weaknesses and how they play off one another, the future looks bright.
You can get a copy of Hydr8’s new album online here at Soundcloud.