HR Giger’s Studiolo – Vol.1 & Vol.2 (Pacific City Discs/ Discrepant)


Originally issued as a double cassette in 2014 under the moniker Typhonian Highlife, HR Giger’s Studiolo is a really peculiar, at times overwhelming and quite demented suite of music. It’s the work of Spencer Clark (Monopoly Child Star Searchers), so you know to expect something left of centre – yet this goes significantly further left than that – so much so you can barely see the centre anymore. There is so much going on, a kind of stonked baroque symphony that seems to be communicating with itself call and response style, wacky bouncy cartoon stomps that turn super emotional, and semi orchestral underwater music all merged into one.

Clark has created a new language here, as the music splutters and gurgles around him, with sci fi sound effects, odd clipped voices, dementia-laden repetition, and an odd stop start mentality. The logic as to why things happen when they do, or what function they fulfil is really difficult to ascertain, yet there definitely is logic, as its carefully composed and consistent. It clearly makes sense to Clark, but others outside of his brain may struggle to connect the dots. Hints come in track titles such as ‘Giger’s Venusian Chestburster,’ or ‘A Movement in the Cenobytes Journey to 15th Century Verona.’ Clark’s music is about combining disparate elements, forming new connections, a place where there’s a direct line from Hellraiser and Alien to Renaissance painters and ancient Italian cities. A place where the impossible combinations are not only allowed to occur, but are designed to flourish. You can talk about high and low art, but ultimately its all inspiration, all ideas, his song titles, album art and unique combinations of musical and non musical elements all telling the same story.

Musically it’s so unique that it’s difficult to compare it to much other than Clark’s own output. You can hear some of that lofi percussive repetition from the likes of Monopoly Child Star Searchers or the well tempered scattered baroque feel of 4th world magazine, yet HR Giger’s Studiolo is very much its own beast.

In a way it’s always going to be an alien being, its too idiosyncratic, too deeply imbued with the tics and penchants of its creator. Yet so few humans create music like this, draw these kind of connections, and structure their sounds in such a profoundly moving yet deeply eccentric way. If you’re willing to embrace uncertainty, confusion and wonder, then HR Giger’s Studiolo is a fascinating and fantastic journey to undertake – just be aware there aren’t too many guard rails.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.