HYPNOSAURUS is a legendary and unclassifiable Estonian techno act that proved to be very influential throughout its somewhat reclusive career.
At the end of eighties, a youngster called Aivar Tõnso, encouraged and inspired by the sounds of Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, early Detroit techno, Sonic Youth, Big Black, and the like, started making music with almost no means – ancient, stone-age technology was put to good use in a constant search for abrasive musical expression. There was literally nothing like this around in Estonia at that time. In his own words, it didn’t even occur to him, that someone might share his leftfield musical vision. A major source of information was John Peel with his late night shows on BBC Radio One. The iron curtain worked mostly, but was not enough to hold all the radio waves from seeping through. The fact that Aivar lived on the top floor of a tower block building, proved to be beneficial. He got a clearer signal.
From 1990 to 1992 the duo consisted of Aivar in care of keyboards and effects, and Railo Pals on drums. It was a time of making music solely for personal entertainment. Somehow the youngsters got hold of an old Soviet synthesizer called Polivox. Aivar remembers, that to this day he is not completely sure of the operational logic of this piece of machinery. It was controllable to some extent, but then feedback and glitches took over and the music developed into uncharted territory. Aivar considers Polivox to be a crucial part of the Hypnosaurus sound. A beastly machine that could barely be tamed by man.
At one point Aivar found out that there was another John Peel follower in Tallinn. This lucky coincidence brought him together with Raul Saaremets (a.k.a Ajukaja), a drummer of a seminal Estonian indie band Röövel Ööbik. First he took over Railo’s drumstool, later on the roles merged and both members of the duo mixed and matched their skills and the joy of constant exploration and discovery. The Hypnosaurus sound during that period became more clubbed out, more physical. A bodily experience, that addressed our primal, tribal urges. Aivar has always stated that he has been mutually inspired by the city and the country. The urban cityscape of a tower block district echoed in the beats and the rural beauty of the summer house and frequent trips to the countryside showing in the poetic and lyrical track names like “Langeb tähti sülle” (“The Stars Fall Into the Arms”) or “Peipsi delfiinidele” (“For the Dolphins of Peipsi”). Hypnosaurus reached even deeper into the clubworld, morphing occasionally into a DJ duo Hypnitro Soundsystem, blowing people’s minds all over Estonia.
Another big influence of Hypnosaurus has always been everything that has to do with geography, territories, borders, travelling and expedition. Borders abounded in Soviet Estonia. Invisible demarcation lines separating East from the West and the ideology from the taboo. There had always been a fascination of distant lands, fuelled by Jules Verne books (thankfully, science fiction and popular science were held in high regard in the USSR). The names of the places and cities took on a mystical meaning. Most of these locations were considered to be physically unreachable, as travelling was allowed only to those who were true to the cause.
As new projects started taking priority in both Raul’s and Aivar’s lives – Raul turning his attention more to DJing and Aivar weirding out further to the leftfield – Hypnosaurus called it a day around 1995. A tape release “Class X 1992-1995” marked the symbolic end of one era in the history of Estonian dance music. Since then, there's only one CD-R compilation released and sold to friends. This here is the first proper collection, carefully curated by Aivar Tõnso himself.
When asked about his early transcendental experience with music, Aivar recalls a moment, when there was an unbreakable bond formed in his head between Arthur Conan Doyle book “The Lost World” and Kraftwerk’s “Computer World” album. Two worlds, one from the distant past of dinosaurs, and the other, in retrospect, not that distant future, merging into one in Hypnosaurus music. Hypno. And Saurus. And this magic music, transcending time and space.