Hypnagogica: new psychedelica in slumberland

Estella Rosa

Recently, I have been noticing this little sub-niche within the dreampop genre that is usually listed as neo-psychedelica (which, officially, was a “diverse genre of psychedelic music that originated in the 1970s as an outgrowth of the British post-punk scene“, resulting in psychedelic pop, jangly guitar rock, and subgenres such as dreampop and shoegaze).  Now, the emerging playlists bearing this tag, seem to carelessly heap a lot of diverse tracks on to the bandwagon of “new psychedelica”: the range is incredibly broad, and the mood seems to stretch from “proper” psychedelic music (heavily influenced by its 60’s/70’s origins), to the lighter dreampop variant with modest washes of trippy. Somewhere in the middle, between dreams and drugs, waking and sleeping, sits a little niche which I’d like to call Hypnagogia (derived from the hypnagogic experience of the transitional, sometimes hallucinatory state from wakefulness to sleep). These tracks have their basis in the ethereal, looping, soundscape character of dreampop, but also blend in elements of 70’s fusion and psych-soul or folky accoustic guitars, albeit subtle and understated: think Khruangbin, Vinyl Williams and Atlas Sound etc. The experience of these songs is mesmerising and fragile/organic at the same time: like hearing music underwater in a glass or seeing the world and its manyfold colours and prisms through shutter-vision. They have the quality of engraining themselves in your subconscious and flowing effortlessly through your brain structure. They will pop back up again at random moments, like  fragments of lost memories: when you wake in the middle of the night or when you watch the world go by through the window of a busy train.

I selected these sonic opiates and made a playlist in progress: may they accompany you on whatever trip you will take on whatever plane….

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