If outer space is the final frontier, what do we call inner space? This is perhaps a question without an answer—at least a definitive answer—that Jacco Gardner asks on this hauntingly beautiful instrumental journey through the human psyche. What mysteries will we uncover along the way? The answers are unique to each listener and well worth uncovering.
Favorite track: Privolva.
Somnium is a nod to the novel of the same name, written in 1608 by Johannes Kepler and is regarded as the first ever science fiction novel. “This book fascinates me because it was basically Kepler travelling in his mind to a non-existent world while describing it, and his journey, with amazing detail. Many of his imagined sensations are actually really what happens when one travels into space, which happened almost four hundred years later. You could call it a vision of the future through his dreams, and I find this aspect very mysterious and powerful.”
This form of mind travel is what Jacco has set out to create in a sonic, almost alchemic, capacity. Hence the reason for his vocals to be left out of this spiritual journey. “I deliberately removed my voice from the experience, as it made it more difficult for me to achieve the intended state of mind. I think it makes the journey more interesting, more deep, and more intimate. I didn’t feel the need to show my face while one drifts away into thought. Somnium is a visionary experience. The album is more than just a trip, it is about contact with a deeper - hidden - reality.”
If the concepts behind this record sound otherworldly and intricately woven then Jacco has also succeeded in making a record that does the same. Analogue synths hum and glide pristinely, bass lines dance buoyantly, dense atmospheres build and form and thoughtfully crafted melodies come and go, floating around as though in space. There are nods to early pioneers of such dreamlike ambience and cosmic exploration - Bo Hansson, Vangelis, Cluster, Tangerine Dream, Eno and Oldfield (the album was mastered by Simon Heyworth whose production credits include the latter three, including Tubular Bells) - but it also exists as a futuristic pursuit, one that is chasing something ahead as well as exploring the past. This is because to Jacco both are equally valid. “The past has always felt very much alive to me and so full of mystery that I have to conclude that the present and the future are probably no different.”
Now living in Lisbon and immersed in literature, cinema, philosophy and with new winding streets to wander, Gardner's ideal listening scenario is to take the album for a walk yourselves, consume it complete and without interruption. “Somnium could be seen as a tribute to the album, a dying format in today’s fast-paced society. It can often be difficult to enjoy a meaningful uninterrupted moment. This album is where true mystery and wonder is waiting to be discovered.”
released November 23, 2018
Produced by Jacco Gardner
Recorded at Shadow Shoppe Studio in Zwaag, The Netherlands and Lisbon, Portugal.
All percussion by Nic Mauskovic
Mastered by Simon Heyworth at Super Audio Mastering
Art direction by Jacco Gardner and Thijs Biersteker
Photography by Rein Janssen
Typesetting by Stefan Altenburger