brakence Reassembles Himself on the Daring ‘hypochondriac’
Photo: Julia Wolf
The past few years have witnessed the rapid ascent of hyperpop and its internet-bred stars, and as is often is the case with subgenres that see a sudden emergence into the mainstream, the scene has only continued to evolve and splinter—often beyond recognition. brakence, one of the subgenre’s leading architects, returns today with his hotly-anticipated major label debut album, and it feels like both a reckoning with the musical landscape he helped to shape and his very being.
hypochondriac is a 13-track effort that eschews the often-constricting limitations of genre, instead playing out like an artist disassembling and reassembling themselves in real-time. While brakence’s trademark maximalist approach remains firmly rooted in the DNA of major label debut, it is bestowed upon moments of catharsis disguised as apathy, self-actualizations predicated by swirling uncertainties, and all the conflicting emotions of an artist tasked with delivering his most ambitious project to date.
This emotional juxtaposition paired with brakence’s innate grasp of boundary-pushing musicality results in some of his most daring cuts yet. “deep fake” sees brakence at his breaking point as he grapples with his sense of self and purpose over a soundscape that matches a growing, fractured intensity, shifting forms from a heartbroken waltz to a blown-out production outburst to a wholly unexpected math rock departure. Or take “preparation exercise no. 7,” whose racing, electronic textures pile on top of one another as if they’re fighting to survive. It results in a thrilling listen from start to finish, with each new track unveiling another hidden-away part of braeknce’s psyche.
In any other artist’s hands, what brakence has attempted on hypochondriac would lack an essential sense of cohesion, coming across as scattershot and misguided, but here it feels like looking at a mirror that has been painstakingly pieced back together—fractured but whole, imperfectly perfect.
Listen to hypochondriac below: