Hatchatorium is a project by Doug Bond – he sings, plays, programs, records, mixes and produces everything released under the projects name tag. If he feels the urge, he will call on other musicians to support him in a live setup. Doug has collaborated with some of the best musicians in the business, and learned a lot from them. In the process, he says that he’s also made some really good friends, the late Chris Cornell being one of them, and an especially painful loss for him. Doug also states that it was Cornell’s death that inspired him to start writing, recording and performing again. Something he had not done professionally in several years.
The almost demise of the album as the format of choice for top-tier artists, as well as the steady shrinking of our attention spans, might have been the best thing to happen to Hatchatorium. The narrowing of Doug’s vison on his latest 8-track EP’s length has only made him stronger, more direct in his visceral rawness. Less time for any interludes and meandering passages. Yet he still finds the space and time to create disparate and diverse sounding tracks.
The songs on ‘Circus of Hell’ can stomp, snarl and insinuate, moving from bubbling and droning industrial foundations like the title track that drives the senses into submission, or unhurried organic numbers like the acoustic guitar driven ‘The Cure’ (Live). Hatchatorium is at its best though, on the frothy, fuzzy groove of ‘I Want You To Die!’ which explodes into a seething rage.
The song is a heartbreak lament to someone who has ruthlessly trampled your heart and feelings. It is not a literal death threat as the title may suggest, but an honest description of the sentiments felt in such a, sentimentally and emotionally, devastating situation.
The rest of the material on ‘Circus of Hell’ is Hatchatorium in his comfort zone, pushing and pulling at the seams through picked acoustic guitars and melancholy vocals on ‘Four’ (Live), to the fully orchestrated and percussive Goth-rock of ‘Superlative’.
Doug also shows a keen ear for cinematic atmospherics on this track. It is a standout, foregrounding the artist’s ability to build tension across an arrangement – one of his strong suits. Doug’s voice is heavily reverberated on “The One”, while its aggressive thrust balances the sweet strum of the acoustic guitar.
‘Run Away With Me’ (Live) is without a doubt the most poignant song on the recording. An achingly beautiful and understated performance void of all the studio gloss, renders this track more easily relatable and emotionally captivating.
Thereafter, the mood shifts, as if Hatchatorium was angry at creating something so deliberately downtempo s the previous song. ‘Wherever You’re Around’, launches itself into an almost tribal-styled drumbeat with a high-pitched, swirling synth in the foreground; Doug’s howling voice remains distant in the mix. This is another profoundly haunting song. The beat and the difficult to understand lyrics, add curiosity and spark the imagination.
It completely nails every aspect of Hatchatorium’s diversity – concept, dynamic contrast, variety in mood and soundscape, lyrics, songwriting, and basically anything else you can think of. A mix of live and studio tracks also bring into light the various production aesthetics, from minimal acoustic, to fully orchestrated and electronically infused pieces. This is a raw, immersive, and encompassing musical experience.