Every once in a while you come across music that manages to make you beam with stray gleams of happiness as you get teleported to your most coveted sci-fi dreams and revel in the ephemeral clouds of escapism. More than usual, the compositional diversity of electronic music catches you by surprise at every turn and Sleep Party People’s “Lingering” released in the summer of 2017 is no different. Their first self-titled studio album was an ethereal rendition of dream-pop that curbed the idea of tinkering with formula electro-pop and boldly experimented around by even adding snappy bits of house. That being said, the overall sophistication on the production of their latest release renders it absolutely virginal and one of the finest records from last year.
The introductory tracks “Figures” and “Fainting Spell” proliferate with a soulful bliss channeling the sonic variants of a euphoric mind-trip. The weightless clatter of synths might as well be the album’s greatest asset complementing the bittersweet balance of wishful dream-pop and ambient electronic. The old-school tonalities of “The Missing Step” and “Salix and His Soil” bubbling with songbird falsettos and long, gleeful sweeps of keyboard backing possess an innate sense of freshness. Transcendental goodness of “Dissensions (feat. Luster)”, “Limitations”, “The Sound of His Daughter” and “The Sun Will Open Its Core” combined with the monotone beats of drum machine and synth patches honors the retro-styled din with arms wide open. After full-blown bouts of ecstasy the album floats in stasis as the melodic dilution in “Lingering Eyes”, “We Are There Together (Feat. Beth Hirsch)” and “Odd Forms” nonchalantly romanticizes the evolution of a private utopia alienating everything close to reality before frolicking in the landscape of a “Vivid Dream”.
Sleep Party People may be a bunch of high-strung musicians strictly keen on maintaining their anonymity cosplaying as creepy bunnies but are certainly worthy of some serious attention for modernizing ambient sororities as they strategically solve the dilemma of excavating human senses through their playful diction and alien palette of synthetic, slowcore sounds.
Being a Nine Inch Nails’ enthusiast since my pre-teens, I can safely admit that I never got over NIN despite the occasional pretentious exploitation of bizarre electro-industrial soundscapes they’ve carried out over the years. Only lately I was at the verge of losing my interest in NIN entirely and somehow they managed to surprise me with their second extended play “Add Violence” released this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the synth-wave and trip-hop innovations on 2013’s “Hesitation Marks” and I strongly concur the latest EP is a very fitting sequel to their last full-length release. It incorporates the conventional mix of noise rock and industrial turbulence with subtle and minimal tactics chipped in to induce a spine-chilling sonic experience.
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross had quite a few soundtrack related ventures together that established their artistic compatibility and interpersonal efflux of musical genius over the time that led to Ross being an official member of NIN now. For better or for worse? Definitely better considering the last two EPs which resist the general speculation about Nine Inch Nails dissolving as a band. An intelligent sense of songcraft, overflowing creativity and experimental risks are highly discernible within the duo’s works that complement one another to generate a brand of hypnosis that’s infiltrated with automated percussions, contemporary synths and eerie atmospherics.
The EP’s first track “Less Than” is what implores the upbeat synthesizer-induced textures that prompt an effortless link to “Hesitation Marks” and Trent’s husky vocal tone ferments a whiff of insanity and agitation. It’s a fairly accessible song and did remind me of genre-based quirkiness accredited to bands like New Order, Wolfsheim or Ultravox. “The Lovers” is simplistic in structure with mechanized drumbeats and unhurried piano sequences embedded within. “This Isn’t the Place” is the track that has me falling head over heels for NIN all over again. The ethereal notations of piano which were the main highlight of 2002’s flawless release “Still” sound just as virginal in this lucidly romantic ballad with surging falsettos that Trent has delivered with a learned sense of warmth and sentimentality. “Not Anymore” is coarse and frantically paced with sudden uproars of industrial noise somehow trying too hard to imitate the frenzied groove of “Starfuckers, Inc” on 1999’s “The Fragile” and still falling short of the intensity it seeks. The last track “The Background World” is a logical closer for the EP. It’s the most experimental track conditioned with rhythmic beats and the ambient-tinged drone that egresses from the underground to the center-stage subsequently. The coherent sound of the song signifies the basic Depeche Mode vibe which later upsets into absurdly modulated synths, cringeworthy delays that eventually die out with the theatrical loops of a glitched system stagnating with an infernal chaos. The EP is brilliantly executed and unnerves the listener to brink of an emotional breakdown like you would expect any legitimate Nine Inch Nails’ offering presumably to.
I stumbled across this really appealing piece of dream-pop combined with ambient & shoegaze elements and I thought I’d do a mini-review. It’s worth it. The album is called “Barrow” by Cemeteries. It’s not to be confused with the hardcore band with same name that disbanded sometime ago. Cemeteries is a brainchild of Kyle J. Reigle based in New York. In the first listen, I was completely enthralled by the originality and the peculiar experimental music which is both refreshing and melancholic in the sense that the line between the two blurs into oblivion eventually intensifying the chimerical essence.
The album commences with “Procession” which is set up with atmospheric soundscapes where the roaring and crashing of the surfs is audible till it melts into the next song “Nightjar” which features Reigle’s soothing, echoic chants and tranquil percussions and synthesizers. This instrumental setting is basically the skeletal framework for almost every song of the album still it manages to haunt you with the little variations and electronic extemporization. The stand-out numbers for me on the record are “Can You Hear Them Sing?” and “Sodus”. The former track is a slowly-paced, gloomy hymn with a repetitive chorus. Let’s just say, there’s nothing really wrong about it. “Sodus” on the other hand, sounds bleak yet beautiful and has a ceremonial tune although the lyrics suggest otherwise. The second part of the song is even more thrilling and serves as a perfect dreamy outro. The song in its entirety fuels your imaginative power to muse about fanciful allegories and metaphors.
It’s not a flawless album but compiled in a way to offer some of the most unique and ethereal dream-pop music. It’s like a breath of fresh air. The surrealism it’s adorned with is the heart and soul of the album. The darker melodies on “Luna (Moon of Claiming)”, “Cicada Howl” and “Our False Fire On Shore” can easily soundtrack the night-time experience amidst the wilderness. The atmospheric musical arrangement definitely trespasses the nostalgic corridors of the mind. The sense of calm & poise it embodies is intoxicating. It’s highly recommended. Go ahead. Give it a spin and wind out!