After posting Tori’s Reef, I looked back at the genres I’d been writing for the previous week: Classical, Chill, Deep Ambient, Big Beat, Synth Wave, Classical, Chill… I decided that it would be fun to do something a bit more dancey, but maybe not as adventurous as Mind Your Own. Since I’d gotten a lot of positive feedback on D-13, I decided to go back to house.
The fracturing of genres into micro-genres is one of the things I’ve struggled with for a long time. Even as a DJ, it was difficult for me to decide when something was Deep House, Tech House, Hippy House, Detroit House… I just thought of them all in terms of, “ok, what’s going to mix well and have the right energy level next?” In the end, genres aren’t mine to decide. It’s for the listener or critic to fit in their own taxonomy. Happily, I’ve stopped worrying about it.
- Hypnos Ray Toler 7:16
If you made me do it, though, I would call this track a combo of deep and tech house, with a dash of industrial thrown in at the end. Back in my clubbing and rave days, this is the track that would show up around 2 or 3 am. Everybody’s in their zone. The music isn’t monotonous, it’s meditation. It’s the dark after-hours club with three stage lights, a strobe, tatty old leather couches on the periphery, and a subwoofer that threatens to knock your heart out of rhythm.
I started with the main synth you hear throughout. In a sudden fit of restraint, I only played two chords, and let them go longer than I thought was comfortable. After adding the main beats in, I just soaked into this for a while, sleep deprivation taking the place of past intoxicants. I almost feel asleep, but never quite. It was very close to what I used to feel on the dance floor with a couple of drinks in me. Eyes closed. No care for whether I was dancing well or not, only that I was moving to an unrelenting and tyrannical beat.
Coming out of that zone, I knew that there had to be something more, but it couldn’t be too much. On a whim, I loaded up a sample library typically used for epic movie scores and trailers. It has (literally) huge drums as well as a lot of other percussion that’s the driving force in almost any action scene these days.
With a set of both plastic buckets and huge Japanese taiko/wadaiko drums, I created the call and response rhythms, then added a few other small details. The next section messed with the filters on the synth, teasing at a build, but then running away.
While it didn’t used to be a standard and expected part of dance music, the build and drop has become, well, standard and expected.1I am always open if anyone wants to nominate me for a Pulitzer or Nobel… I broke with the typical tradition a tiny bit by not going Full Drop,2Never go full drop instead pulling everything back to the synth and crowd riser that goes directly into the “big” part.
At this point, I wanted things up at the next energy level. I couldn’t do that with the filter on the main synth ostinato alone, so added a somewhat-industrial bass line. Everything had been pretty clean, so I went with a dirtier buzzier sound. It’s actually a stack of three different synths, and I panned two of them hard left and right to provide a wider sound, as well as providing something interesting when listening on headphones.
The rest of it is just undoing what you’ve done, things drop out as they do, clearing out room for the DJ to mix in the next track that will do the same thing for another six minutes, on and on, ‘till the break of dawn.
The title was one of those funny flashes of inspiration. I was thinking to myself while zoning out that the beat was very hypnotic, and just happened to see the title Hymnos in my iTunes library while listening. At that point, if this track wasn’t named Hypnos, I wouldn’t ever be able to forgive myself.
Instruments & Samples
Omnisphere, Damage 2, Rise & Hit, Stylus RMX, XO
Effects, Mixing, & Mastering
MOTU Autopan & Masterworks EQ, PanMan, Valhalla Supermassive, Gullfoss, Pro-Q 3, Pro-C 2, Pro-L 2
Image Credit: Pxhere (Public Domain)
- 1I am always open if anyone wants to nominate me for a Pulitzer or Nobel…
- 2Never go full drop