I first came across Mark Healy at the time of his first album as Hibernal, ‘The Machine’, and every new release since then is something I look forward to as a major event, and I am yet to be disappointed. What Mark is doing with Hibernal is bringing together his love of post rock music with his innate art of storytelling (he is a well-known author who has published multiple books and short stories, with subjects ranging from post-apocalyptic, dystopian and cyberpunk to space opera). The line-up for this album is the same as the last, 2017’s ‘ The Dark of The City’, where Mark is joined on the musical side by Rowan Salt, with the story being told by the same two actors, Scott Gentle and Faleena Hopkins. In fact, all four were involved in the second Hibernal album back in 2014, but there was a larger cast that time.
As with all his albums, this has also been released as a music-only project, but for me it is the combination of the music and the parts being played by the actors which make this what it is. Whenever I get a new Hibernal release I ensure I have time to sit and listen to the whole thing in one go, as I immerse myself in the world being created, the music adding to the storyline and the storyline lifting the music to a new level: it provides the understanding and background one needs to get the most out of it. As a fan of science fiction, and progressive rock music, having both of them combine together in a way such as this is something compelling. The music is keyboard-based, repetitive in the background, with melodies coming over the top. It feels incredibly cinematic, as this is a film for the ears as opposed to a soundtrack, and I found myself really “seeing” the storyline and understanding the struggle.
As with all his albums, this is on Bandcamp (and he has a daft offer available at present to get all his releases for a very cheap price indeed), and fans of his books, science fiction in general, or who want to discover what can happen when the music and actors really do rely on each other, then check this out.
9/10 Kev Rowland