Berlin electronic avant-gardists HYENAZ have evolved a cult status for their immersive live shows, for which they were dubbed a “performative monster duo” by electro superstar Peaches and one of the “Best Live Acts in Berlin” by Kaltblut magazine.
The process of birthing the second HYENAZ album “Critical Magic” has already taken the band from Berlin to Korea, China and Japan, through Europe and back. Its path has been ritualistic and intentional; it has already seen an explosive dialogue between audience and performer around the world.
The process began in mid 2014, with a site-specific performance called “Spectral Rite” at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Korea. The goal was to create a magical ritual that would challenge the authoritarian power structures of the museum itself and society at large. HYENAZ travelled to a farmhouse outside of Berlin, joined for part of the process by visual artists Sylbee Kim and Nico Pelzer.
There they used “Chaos Magic”, an unorthodox, post-modern magical movement where practitioners construct spells and rituals from the context in which they find themselves. What they found in Chaos Magic mirrored the artistic game approach to creativity that HYENAZ had learned from an encounter with the activist-poet C.A. Conrad on their last USA tour. The pairing of these influenced helped to craft a set of generative techniques for the texts, tones, movements and visuals of the museum performance and the album “Critical Magic”.
Two weeks of spells, artistic games, and psychedelic experimentation followed: HYENAZ took walks through the forest recording spontaneous melodies into a Zoom recorder; they holed themselves up in a basement, sampling ancient water boilers and scrap metal to turn into the synth patches and percussion that populate the album; they sat in fields writing lyrics as a collective, each responding to the fixed commands of the task they had divined.
Critical Magic builds on the experimental spirit of their first self-titled endeavour, which was released by the LA-based Records Ad Nauseam. More than just a concept album, Critical Magic can be understood as a singular cohesive spell, a torrent of incantations leading to a height of gnosis and ending in a reality transformed by the performance of the magical ritual. This journey is represented in part by a fracturing of genre into flow: Synthpop devolves into broken beats, tech-house into horror-wave into bounce into manic laughter. The flows of the album are guided, above all by the needs of the ritualistic practices they immerse themselves in, above all other considerations.
To place HYENAZ in terms of influences, it is necessary to look beyond music to the work of philosophers like Deleuze & Guattari and Walter Benjamin, Butoh dancers like Kazuo Ohno and surrealists like Cherrie Moraga and Alexander Jodorowsky—thinkers, dreamers and movers concerned with the multiple, with the alien-self, and above all with possibilities for self and social transformation through artistic practice and the performance of ritual.