sonhos tomam conta’s most recent project hypnagogia is a sonic sampler of feverish lilac delirium. Every aspect of the album is curated in the style of rock-bottom’s synonymous hue: the ‘Gengar Purple’ cassette release, the fuzzy nighttime scene on the cover, a track titled “grape-colored suicide,” right down to the mauve and periwinkle type on sonhos tomam conta’s Bandcamp page. And with a warbled, emotional, extreme-gaze sound that’s absolutely gorged with the artist’s suffering and her selfhood, the entire project is so perfectly hazy it almost hurts. Through rolling distortion, seizing lyrics, and glacier-thick reverb hypnagogia accomplishes the impossibility of refashioning intense dysphoria into a soothingly heart-wrenching listening experience.
The album’s atmosphere offers the feeling of being cornered by a monstrous wave: each sound and each touchy lyric stretches sky-high before curling overhead and crashing just behind your feet, spraying the back of your neck with goosebumps. However, the echoes in that vast encircling space feel anesthetizing and soft rather than bombarding, and the approach works well with all the different paces, vocals, and textures throughout hypnagogia. On the opening track, “alprazolam vs vino barato vs 6 da manhã,” sonhos tomam conta chooses damp guitars and grotto-like vocals. With spine-chilling resolve, she sings: “there is so much pain in this world/and it’s all mine, i can feel for everyone/i think my birth was a punishment/if i could, i wouldn’t consent.” The words are a mix of acceptance and desperation, a perfectly tame entrance track for an emotionally hefty album. The whole tone of the opener is dreary, almost overly calm, a touch of near ennui before diving into something more pathological. The guitars crash and comminute steadily under splashy drums, a minor harmony of dark and twinkling instruments bubbling to the surface when the guitar’s roughness subsides. This track lulls you, consoles you bitterly with the lamentation of inability. It’s like a friend that can’t do anything but cover you with their arms and help you sleep.
All the songs that make hypnagogia capture a range of mental strain with different approaches. Some of the songs that build calmly are worn with solemnity, some are bitter-sweet, and some begin warm but end cold, untouched, and distant. The soft, symphony-like “meu corpo é uma prisão” is just as intense as the album’s vicious opener. The more jagged tunes feel glass-cut and bleeding raw, yet none are any more or less potent than the last. “lonely people in neon cities,” “aurora,” and “reverb na master” are stunning for their rougher, noisier sounds in contrast to the album’s other more reticent ones.
hypnagogia by sonhos tomam conta LPNC suddenly plummets from the fogginess of hypnagogia’s opener into what feels like must be the artists’ most frightened and despairing moments. Guitar melodies that would already dig right into your chest are curled into a clash of color with their own reverb/resonance, spurring on a feeling of inner conflict. Per sonhos tomam conta, it’s “an attempt to recreate the colors and atmosphere of the last state of consciousness that I [she] could take.” You can hear a shred of hope in the few instances of clarity throughout track 2––instances where the size and humidity of the room decrease and things briefly become brighter and more discernible, that tiny bit of hope making the surrounding emotion all the more heart-wrenching. The track repeatedly climaxes, like a whirlwind of cyclic panics that can only end in dry-heaving and tears. The melodies are stretched long and thin and add a feeling of breathlessness, exhaling for just a beat too long.
“aurora” attacks from the outset with sonhos somam conta singing in Portuguese, the lyrics when translated to English hang with exhaustion: “the sun weighs over my dilated eyes // my flesh, so weak, gives in to the weight of the routine // once again, i fulfill my fate.” The drums begin to thump in imitation of a weak heartbeat before the song dies out.
More coherent melodics are nestled throughout the purple fuzz, making your ears seek out their addicting grooves beneath all the reverb. Dark melodic sequencing coaxes out a tinge of hopefulness with each delicately bright endnote, each time thrusting a pang of curdled emotion through your gut. The vocal techniques range from warm-tempered singing, heady wailing to something akin to a groan, all helping build the disorientation and nausea for life.
The album feels buried from start to finish, its production style running close to shoegaze without the tawdry distance, and the wall-of-sound replaced by a monsoon that utilizes clear skies as much as the downpour. It’s muddy, dominating across its vast spaciousness, and so diabolically consoling that it runs the risk of asphyxiation––calling hypnagogia anything short of terrifying is a damn mistake.