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The latest project from Calgary house-producer and DJ J. “JHNN” Arum finds him returning for the second instalment of his Hypocrt series on HypoCRT 1: .M4A. Mixing parts house, part thematic synths and some professional production quality, the album puts a lot of effort into crafting a tight sound that works well when firing on all cylinders.
“YCCU” opens the album on a lounge-tinged drone of drums and the mantra chant of the titular phrase. The album jumps right into its house soul with “Patience” where drum machines and a well-hooked piano line create a force that drives the song.
“Balance” builds with ambience and some truly deep bass and the production really feels finessed to perfection when the drums kick in, unfortunately the vocal track isn’t forcefully or passionately delivered, taking away some of the track’s momentum. “Balance Interlude” offers interesting voice modulation on a track that could score an indie science fiction flick without the vocals.
There’s an incredible uplifting feel to “SOH” that permeates every synth note of the song and brings a great warmth when the whole production comes in to accent that. Flowing right into the driving beat of “Find Out Why [DIY Works],” although the song truly opens up when it hits its surging choruses. The song takes a sonic journey in a wooden bell solo as a watery bass floats around the track.
The first truly passioned vocals of the album shine through on “Accessible” and they’re delightful, the charming lo-fi recording of both them and some of the percussion make it a fun indie track that expands beyond the house genre most of the album stays in. “IWIS” finds JHNN again penning a track that doesn’t quite match the scope of the rest of the record but would once again sound great on a score set to visuals.
There’s some killer instrumentation on “The Burden” that manages to keep the song moving without any dragging, unfortunately it is hurt by vocals that while rhythmically work, were recorded in such a way that they become too distracting and hinder the song’s flow. There’s an unmistakable wonder to “Act I, Scene II” which never feels too long in its over eight-minute runtime. The track merges both thematic feelings and great beats to make a track that can be danced to and listened to like a score. “Updating…” serves as another ambient interlude track with more ambient qualities than anything else.
“You Are In My Head” plays with a lot of high end and despite a really interesting guitar sound, never pulls in enough low-end sound to give a sense of resolve to the track. There’s a return to the ambient drone on “E1NOES” where a throbbing bass and military drum fuel the attack, although hindered by occasionally mumbled vocals.
The album ends on “Exitlude” which closes on a drip of bass beats covered in a rant on technology delivered in excellent fashion.
HypoCRT 1: .M4A is an excellently produced house album from top to bottom with several tracks moving into great indie-pop. The album does suffer repeatedly from vocals that feel lacklustre or unnecessary, but also features several tracks that could be used in film scores making for an unadulterated groove that would work perfectly with a few subtle tweaks. There’s an incredible flow from track-to-track on much of the album further underscoring JHNN’s great production, creating a record that feels like one continuous track.