Mythopoeic Mind – Hatchling Review

I love learning new words. Yesterday, Cherd made me aware of ebullient, and I’m still waiting for an opportunity to use pulchritudinous, which I learned from the review of the last Shape of Despair album (also waiting for a new Shape of Despair album), in casual conversation. Mythopoeic is another new word for my vocabulary, which is becoming increasingly pretentious at a frightening rate, and it’s also the main reason I selected Hatchling for review today. According to the notes that came with the album, this is the sophomore release from Norwegian prog-rockers Mythopoeic Mind, formerly the studio project of one Steinar Børve of Panzerpappa. It all looks good so far; how do these mythical storytellers fare when the music begins?

I’ll start with the positives, though I feel like the nicest thing I can say about Hatchling is that it’s a cornucopia of interesting ideas that sometimes works. Between the six band members, we’ve got keyboards, trumpets, saxophones, more keyboards, miscellaneous programming, a euphonium, drums, singing, and guitars, including electric, acoustic, and fretless bass. Together, they form a whirlwind atmosphere that rarely stays in the same place for longer than it takes to identify. And, of course, with so much going on, something has to land, and “Cottage of Lost Play” is the best example on the album of Mythopoeic Mind’s potential. Certainly, the band takes its identity as a “progressive” group seriously, with the various horns and keys making up the core of their instrumental identity; here, these instruments open with a brooding vibe before transitioning into the meat of the song, a wry melody that deftly balances melancholy and a touch of whimsy before the song reaches its chaotic climax like a lunatic jazz musician unleashed upon the masses. 

I wish I could say the rest of Mythopoeic Mind’s ideas come together as smoothly across Hatchling, but I just don’t think they do. Apart from the trumpet, saxophone, and organ, a lot of instruments just don’t get a lot of time to shine, and often feel as though they’re competing for space across the record. The title track, for example, opens with a simple melody of acoustic guitar, but eventually transitions into a groovy sort of highlight for the organ before another sudden transition into an admittedly great, folksy, Ayreon-esque medley featuring — wait for it — a bassoon. The last two-and-a-half minutes of “Fog Vision” would simply be a haze of distant guitars whining and various synthesized atmospheres, except for the bass… solo? Improv piece? Whatever it is, it’s ultimately an aimless time filler, acting out a cool idea in theory that just doesn’t quite land.

“A cool idea in theory that just doesn’t quite land” isn’t a bad descriptor for the album whole, really. Take the vocals, for instance. While I have nothing bad to say about Veronica Hørven Jensen’s performance, I’m not really sure what happened when the band crafted her vocal melodies. On paper, I’m certain the lyrics for Hatching look inspired — but I’m not reading the lyrics, I’m hearing them, and the vocal acrobatics that Jensen has to perform to make verses with lines of competing syllables and halfhearted rhymes are a serious distraction from the rest of the album. “Fear Fiesta” makes a particular point of this in its verses. What I suspect began as a well-intentioned attempt to preserve a specific lyrical style — one that I happen to like, I might add — becomes just another idea in the overflowing pot that is the forty-three minutes of Hatchling. It’s an album of heart, but not one of consistency.

I really want to like Hatchling. Mythopoeic Mind has a cool vibe accompanying an “anything goes” style, and across the album are pockets of cool moments that burrow their way into your head and don’t really go away. Unfortunately, it’s too inconsistent, too haphazard, and too awkwardly stitched together, giving the impression that no idea was left behind. And yet, it’s an earnest kind of album, with music that I really wanted to like more than I did. I will be keeping an eye on Mythopoeic Mind and looking forward to their next release, contradictory as it may seem — there’s something here. Hatchling just isn’t it. 


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Apollon Records
Websites: mythopoeicmind.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/MythopoeicMind
Released Worldwide: August 20th, 2021

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