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Hypercolor: Hypercolor

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Although they have been performing together for eight years now, the New York avant-garde trio Hypercolor released their self-titled debut recording early this year. It was worth the wait, as the band-guitarist Eyal Maoz, bassist James Ilgenfritz and drummer Lukas Ligeti-lets fly with a rough-edged, wildly inventive amalgam of punkish melodic provocation and rhythmic adventurism that defies classification. Is it jazz? Rock? A funhouse-mirror monstrosity à la Frank Zappa? No matter what one calls it, it’s an undeniably daring and exhilarating ride.

The album’s 10 tracks are original compositions, half by Maoz, who proves himself equally adept at shaping memorable riffs, as on the opener, “Squeaks,” and cutting loose with window-rattling noise, as on his metal-edged freakout “Palace.” “Forget” evokes an echoey dreamscape fraught with rhythmic tension, and the guitarist and Ilgenfritz, who plays strictly electric bass throughout the album, warp spiky phrases around one another on the wonkily paced “Far Connection.” Ilgenfritz’s “Glowering” combines his own in-the-pocket rhythmic sense with bloop-blorping electronic effects and blustering Maoz note clusters, while his “Little Brother,” the album’s longest track at over 10 minutes, masterfully builds Maoz’s spacious melodicism into a hypnotic meditation. The drummer, son of legendary avant-garde composer György Ligeti, is a polyrhythmic powerhouse, unfurling multi-decked stacks of sound as effortlessly as breathing. His sole composition, the enigmatically titled “Ernesto, Do You Have a Cotton Box?,” marries a mesmerizing stutter-step rhythm with bent-note psychedelic guitar figures.

It’s too early to tell whether Hypercolor represents a new evolution in jazz-inflected art-rock. But in the moment, it’s a listening experience with expansive effects on both the ears and the mind.

Originally Published