Severe Insomnia is the second release by New York-based experimental composer Hannis Brown and his first album for Lumberton Trading Company. It is a spine-chilling and unpredictable rollercoaster-ride of a listen. The 11 instrumental tracks run the gamut from musique-concrete tape collages and electro-acoustic composition to works for chamber ensembles, orchestra, and solo prepared guitar. Inspired by the meandering and disjunct images that manifest themselves on the backs of eyelids during bouts of insomnia, the music is charged with an instability marked by atonal explosions of saxophones, sedate interludes of electronic and orchestral textures, and nightmarish climaxes of tone clusters.
Each piece creates a unique sonic space while contributing to an overarching theme of somnipathy—the anguished screams of 'Face Down At Twilight', the chopped found sounds of 'Alice’s Attic', the churning orchestral textures of 'Furies'. Incorporating the microtonal orchestrations of Pendereki and Ligeti with the electro-acoustic spatial compositions of Edgar Varese and frenzied free jazz of Charles Mingus, Severe Insomnia is coloured with unorthodox textures and orchestrations. Violins gliss through streams of broken harmonics. Tapped beer bottles, spinning coins, and metal garbage cans scraped with paper clips serve as percussion behind the sounds of children’s voices and spiraling woodwind clusters. Strings oscillate slowly in and out of phase with one another; hyperventilating breathing exercises cloak muddled trumpet and flute.
The result is a unique and unsettling suite of compositions; a textural concept work that pushes you to the depths of your subconscious and hold you there.
Additional Notes: Severe Insomnia is limited to 500. The first 25 copies also come with special hand-painted glass packaging. The album was released during February 2011 and follows Hannis Brown's self-released and critically acclaimed debut CD from 2010, Oh Ah Ee. It represents another step in Lumberton Trading Company's forging of a relationship with music that cannot be easily boxed.
Hannis Brown also played a few dates in Poland in October 2011 (his first tour outside the US) and collaborated with several musicians during then, including Piotr Kurek, Ray Dickaty, Michal Dymny and Konrad Geca. It is hoped he will play Europe again in 2012 and that his next album will appear on Lumberton Trading Company then, too.
Meanwhile, he has a limited edition 7" planned on LTCo sister label, Fourth Dimension, as part of a subscription series there. You can also listen to a new piece by him in the interim here: http://hannisbrown.bandcamp.com/http://hannisbrown.bandcamp.com/
Review from VITAL WEEKLY (Issue 778)
Severe Insomnia is the second release by New York-based composer Hannis Brown, being the follow up of Brown's self-released debut 'Oh Ah Ee', an experimental rock album. His new album has nothing to do with rock and everything with composed music. For this release 11 compositions are brought together , taken from various performances. At first listening it is the diversity that is remarkable. The compositions are of a very different nature and instrumentation, but all come from the same - eclectic - mind. And also from a romantic soul if you aske me. As a composer Brown is not interested in making a statement on the forefront of new music. Most of his works here, have a link with some musical past, and dwell somewhere between the present and the past. 'Dismemberment' is for a small ensemble and starts from minimalistic procedures, to end somewhere else. 'Furies' is written for an orchestra. 'Alice's Attic' makes use of electro-acoustic procedures, combined with an ensemble. 'Final Arguments with Maximillian' seems to have a prominent role for a pianola. Etc, etc. There is a lot to discover here. Brown choses very different ways and procedures for structuring a piece of music. At the same time the music is full of emotion and very sensitive. A unique statement.
For more information, please visit: www.hannisbrown.com
Hannis Brown’s labor of love knows exactly where it is going – to the nearest psychiatrist… call Hannis Brown the bi-polar Miles Davis”
- two.one.five magazine
Hannis Brown is to music what mad scientists are to invention.”
- Fense Post: THE Indie Blog
“Brown has a mischievous sense of humour that rescues these songs from the po-faced experimental ghetto and allows in the casual listener before disorientating them in this musical hall of mirrors.”
– Americana UK