Hypnogogia @ The Swan Lounge

Hypnogogia – defined as the transitional state between sleep and wakefulness and perhaps one of the most difficult band names to spell in the current Perth scene – came out to play at the Swan Lounge on Saturday night. It was apparently the Night of the Hs at the Swan Lounge that night as all the bands on the bill had names beginning with this underrated letter of the alphabet.

Similar to their name, Hypnogogia are hard to pin down. There are traces of hard rock, psychedelia and jazz elements all thrown together in a sometimes-surreal sounding mix, from the mellow, singalong Wednesday to the sinister-sounding, droning dissonance of Prayer In Hell. What does tie all these disparate elements together is guitar/vocalist Michelle James’s dark vocals and bassist/vocals Matt Romaro’s busy, driving bass lines which dives and dances around the solid (if sometimes staid) guitar lines.

The lighting at the Swan Lounge – dimly lit with some red spotlights – made life hell for photographers but was the perfect ambience for the band. The main critique about Hypnogogia is that they seem like a work-in-progress, with a promising but still-developing sound. Perhaps they need to cut back on one guitar and allow more interplay between the bass and the guitar (and Hypnogogia was at their most exciting when the bass and guitar exchanges were prominent), or have more guitar parts instead of having one guitar mainly playing chords.

Despite that quibble, Hypnogogia are a worthwhile listen for their diversity and experimentation. It will be interesting to see how far they can take their unique sound.