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Hybryds – Music For Rituals


Hybryds – Music For RitualsHybryds are one of those Eighties/Nineties tape culture outfits (in this case from Belgium) whose early material is getting a welcome series of re-releases nearly three decades later. Zoharum have pulled out all the stops for this double CD package of their debut 1992 CD Music For Rituals which is complemented by a bonus disc, Rarities and Unreleased.

Recorded to four-track cassette and cleaned up for the re-issue, Music For Rituals actually manages to sound for the most part as might be hoped – if not always expected or transpires – would apply to rediscovered music of this era and genre: fresh and to a large degree out of time and place. Given the title, it’s no surprise that there’s a fair bit of chanting, droning and looped percussion going on at various intervals, voices channelled through delay effects and pitched to less obvious frequencies. There’s a certain amount of cassette compression – but not hiss – present from the master recordings, but this usually results in the album maintaining a particular texture characteristic of its origins, and Hybryds also obviously knew what they were doing with their excellent production techniques.

There’s a lot of affinity here with other groups (Coil, Zoviet:France and pretty much everyone who appeared on the Elephant Table Album, for example) who were busy working in a pre-internet underground music scene which collaborated by tape-swaps in the post and communicated – and often heard of each other – largely by word of mouth and through small-circulation photocopied fanzines. As Europeans with access to relatively cheap recording devices encountered musicians and recordings from around the globe (as exemplified here by the inclusion of a recording credit for an unknown Ecuadorean street musician), those without any interest whatsoever in making bland so-called world music produced results which were often, though not always, as striking as those on Music for Rituals. Hybryds could perhaps more profitably be subsumed under the rubric of experimental music, though as their contemporary Edward Ka-Spel has observed, this can make it sound like the musicians don’t necessarily have an idea of what they are doing.

Psychedelic doesn’t really cover what Hybryds are up to here either, as when the matching of drips with metal clangs run through a primitive looper in “Aquahypno” become possessed of a mesmeric quality while the beats shuttle from ear to ear, its wide-spaced stereo panning working particularly well. Similarly, a track like “Apas” has a watery quality to what could be multitracked monks chanting quietly into a vast, slowly gyration at the periphery of a cosmic void. Hybryds can get spooky too, as on the haunting dronescape of “Drifting Moon” or in the eerily pitch-tweaked, back-masked and slurred declamations of “The Man With No Shadow” which would doubtless raise a horripilation or two at volume in a darkened room thick with incense and other smokes. When there are vocals, they are enunciated and sung by Yasnaïa, who also plays heavily-effected cello on many of the tracks.

Other musicians joining mainstay Sandy Nys (AKA Magthea, the only constant member of Hybryds) on both discs include Vidna Obmana while other guests contribute to a pair of half-hour tracks which provide the bulk of the rarities disc. These include the briefly-encountered Michel (last name long forgotten) and his self-made kotos which provide melodies for the sprawlingly cinematic exotic-erotic fantasy composition “Girlhunter.” This latter features dialogue sampled from a Japanese S&M VHS film of the same name, a track freshly-unearthed and remixed for this double CD edition. Barry Edgar Pilcher joins in with snippets of tape shares fed through a primitive sampler and delays to help create the long, winding “Saxapulations” from 1984, which calls to mind Ariel Kalma‘s hauntingly stratospheric sax and electronics promenades from the Seventies; Pilcher later became a long-distance member if Hybryds, appearing also on the same disc’s still more reflective and abstractly diverse “Soundpainting Part 2.”

Hybryds often present a deceptively calm, even gentle, aspect to their rituals, such as the one dedicated to Quetzalcoatl which rises up in stately progress from uncurling percussion loops, what sounds like a shakahuchi and sparse accretions of electronics, resolving into the almost twangy atmospheres of a gently hypnotic ethnological forgery, to borrow Can‘s terminology. This description could apply to quite a few tracks here: “Girlhunter,” naturally; “Agape,” “Vayu,” “Azjemz” or “Ros Caelestis;” while the concluding “Coda by Joseph Campbell” is a bit of a queasy statement of both intent and perhaps the obvious as the famous mythographer’s sampled voice observes, “By participating in a ritual you are participating in a myth,” and this sense of an imaginary global world rising into view was certainly reasonably typical of its time.

It’s all round good news then, that Music For Rituals is finally getting a well-deserved re-release. It’s more than deserving of any news fans which Hybryds get as a result, and proof positive that there’s far, far more music out there than had perhaps been remembered or encountered the first time around.

-Antron S. Meister-

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