By Andrew B. White
After a couple of recent EPs – Van Der Ground (late 2013) and Classic Collection (early 2014), France's Hypercan deliver their first full length album Canis Major. Hypercan also contributed the excellent 'Cocojuice Airlines' track to the recent Retro Promenade compilation "Gonzo Golden Globes".
I have only been able to find very little about information about Hypercan. They are possibly a duo or trio, two of the members mysteriously named 'Dog Dynamite' and 'Blondie Braun' with publicity photos showing them dressed in dog gimp masks. Maybe it's the 'French way' to stay anonymous and wear helmets to conceal one's faces to the world, which in turns adds to the mystery of the music.
Hypercan describe their music as "synth-wave, disco chip 80' 90' 00'" an that would be entirely accurate. Canis Major is a collection of chiptune-influenced, instrumental synth tracks, with nods to the 80s, 90s and 00s. A little Italo, even verging on funk and Euro pop at times. What Hypercan manage to pull-off is a kind of hybrid sound that seamlessly incorporates several styles into cohesive tracks. If you like chiptune music but can only deal with it in small doses then Hypercan might just have struck the perfect balance for you.
A majority of Canis Major is uptempo and quite frantic without being schizophrenic. The first four tracks on the album roll along at an intense pace, in keeping with the gaming vibe. Of course it may sound a little cliché to mention these songs would be perfect for a variety of game levels but that is certainly the case here. Track four 'Exoticat' brings the pace back a little and has a great lead synth hook which gives it more of a regular 'pop song' feel. This then leads into the excellent 'Hood Party' - a mix of Italo/Euro club with some pretty, FM bell-type synths and clever rhythmic parts, combining a 4/4 beat with some tricky overlapping off-beats. This track is a lot of fun and certainly encourages you to go look for some sunshine and a straight stretch of road.
Midway through the album the short arcade textured interlude 'Artorius' brings us to a slightly darker universe with 'Disturbo' - a great play on words as a song title (Disturbing turbo maybe?). 'Say Engine' ups the pace and the song's title seems to come from the voice samples that are manipulated to sound a little like heavy metal hammer-on guitar riffs. 'Night Patrol' features a meaty, widescreen synth bass line that pushes the song along and gets the low end moving. 'Five Birds' is Canis Major's 'romantic interlude' moment with minimal 808 style drums and its soothing, gentle synths.
Lucky you just got that moment of tranquility as things rev-up again; 'It's Me', 'Glitched Newborn, 'Tanget' and the fantastically named 'Spaceship Laundry' increase the BPMs through to the closing track, the aptly named 'Drive Away'. This track proves that the last song on an album doesn't have to be 'filler' – this is a perfect close-out track that builds and keeps you locked-in until the very end.
Personally, 'Spaceship Laundry' is probably one of my favourite tracks on Canis Major with its chunky bass line and Harold Faltemeyer vibe. Although the album has 15 tracks many of them are under three minutes in duration, with the longest clocking in at 4:32. The result of this means none of the music suffers from being drawn-out, keeps you interested and never feels like things are dragging-on. The album's production is excellent and the way Hypercan arrange their music, their choice of sounds and clever little 'ear candy' moments gives everything a special edge. I would thinks fans of Arcade High's less poppy moments would enjoy this album, especially those looking for something along the same vibe, but possibly a little darker.
Hypercan present the Canis Major album on their Bandcamp page here and this album comes very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM. Also. this record is certainly an album to be enjoyed on headphones so grab those FLAC files and embark an a new adventure courtesy of Hypercan.