On “Drastic Cinematic,” a 13-song disk dedicated to the French-Swiss filmmaker, Hyperbubble trade in their cartoony, retro-futurist bubblegum pop for a moodier, darker, and…well, cinematic… feel.
But don’t expect gloomy ambient soundscapes here.
This is still a catchy – though largely instrumental – pop record where the band pays homage to the soundtrack works of Giorgio Moroder, Issac Hayes, Wendy Carlos, Queen and Tangerine Dream. The simple melodies and repetitive, catchy choruses also evoke Kraftwerk on several songs, although that may be a comparison the band – now on its fifth CD – tires of hearing.
Hyperbubble keeps vocals to a minimum here, preferring to limit them to repetitions of song titles during choruses, as in the Gary Numanesque “Geometry,” where Jess (lead vocals, synthesizers and electronic drums) trades off with Jeff (synthesizers, sequencers and vocals), his voice robotically altered by a Vocoder. Elsewhere, as in “Quiet on the Set” and the title track, breathy sighs, whispers and laughter weave in and out of the mix like instrumental tracks.
The duo also drops bits of spoken dialogue into song intros, several provided by francophone collaborators (remember the Goddard thing?). At the opening of the second tune, “Midnight Cruiser,” a man and woman speak over the sound of pouring rain. “Do you have it?” he asks, to which she replies, “Shhh. Get in the car.” It’s a perfect reminder that the ensuing music is meant to accompany something fascinating and mysterious onscreen – perhaps a sequel to Goddard’s science fiction-meets-film noir “Alphaville.”
Things get their most soundtracky on “Infinity, Pts. 1 and 2,” where the track’s bubbly first half welcomes the listener to infinity amid analog bleeps, bloops and ascending scales. The longer second half moves through a dark, dirgy introduction before a fanfare of French horns drop in and it concludes with a burbling Tangerine Dream-ish sythensizer figure and a voiceover (in French, of course).
Hyperbubble has already proven it can churn out bouncy, lyrically clever synth-pop with the best. So it’s a kick to see the duo further expand its sonic palette while keeping the same cheeky retro sensibilities that made their earlier disks so refreshing. “Drastic Cinematic” is a welcome addition to Hyperbubble’s already solid catalogue — and a worthy tribute to the filmmaker who inspired it.
Jointly released by Bubblegum Records in the UK and Pure Pop For Now People Records in Germany, “Drastic Cinematic” is available from Hyperbubble’s online store.