Wednesday, June 1, 2016

sleepdebt - Gravity EP Review

You know, as a music blogger on the Internet I tend to get a handful of people approaching me to review their music. Most of it is not that good, but beyond that, as one would come to expect from reading my work, I value an artist's contextual obligations in the music scene highly and without that review's become increasingly difficult. Not for sleepdebt though, and his debut EP Gravity. There's certain genres of music where one can easily find a niche being a newcomer given a concrete enough foundation, i.e. the apparent amateurism of an upstart rapper is more easily noticed than a producer making semblance beats with nuanced instrumentation. Gravity fits this bill, and although it's only four songs, the feelings it gives off goes a long way to determining sleepdebt's successes. Falling in tune with other Downtempo artists like Nosaj Thing, Chrome Sparks, and xxyyxx, while being inspired by such legends like Boards Of Canda and Burial, sleepdebt relaxes with no urgency for the spotlight, instead forcing your attention onto the details, providing a sound to accompany your nocturnal vibe sessions. Whether that be a late night cruise, a smoked out basement, or a solemn night gazing at the ceiling, Gravity offers versatility whilst remaining grounded.

With regards to Downtempo instrumental artists, the visuals are just as important as the music, as the sonic fabric itself is all show and no tell, leaving a blank canvas for you to implant your perceptions on. Gravity's cover features that of a nude, mannequin-esque humanoid grasping onto soft, silken sheets of lavender, and believe me that visual is optimal. 'Falling (For / From)' delicately weaves minimal percussion and synth work with hints of extra touches, like the crackling drops of fire, or of rain, or of a vinyl, we're not quite sure, onto the background of the piece, giving it that muddled elasticity where nothing is quite as it seems. It's also on this song that the EP gets its namesake, where a seemingly conflicted female hauntingly whispers "and my body knows gravity again," signaling a sudden, and seductive, beat switch with bells that sound foreign, namely that of Asian descent. Simple on the surface, but complex underneath, that's how the majority of Gravity works. Another great example of this is 'I C U,' which features so many interchangeable parts that the fact it works is a doozy. The most impressive of which is a sample from Death Grips' 'Whatever I Want,' as the acid rain pours down from overhead, fitting the mold of the track wonderfully, instead of being a jarring sidebar like you'd expect.

This all goes without mentioning the EP's best track, its opener 'Alone Time.' With hushed beginnings, sleepdebt is able to contort the song's backbone enough that by its conclusion, a mere three minutes later, the piece has taken on a completely different life. For Downtempo music, it's pivotal to showcase progression, otherwise you risk monotony. On 'Alone Time,' sleepdebt does this by building on elements that tease to other ones, namely the sample of Eri Suga's 'A Song of Birth.' Midway through he taunts us, undulating her scattered vocals to and fro, pushing them in and out of focus. This leads to her pushing full force into the thick of things, with the instrumentation around her having no option but to submit to her chirping waves. The formation just works, which leaves the finale, 'Redemption Will Have to Wait,' a tad bit stale. Not for a lack of quality, hell the lush guitars sound plucked from a Cocteau Twins session, just that the previous three tracks surpass it. Overall though, Gravity is worth checking out, a short EP with a story to tell and a setting to work within. In the ethereal instrumental realm, you can't ask for much more.

Check out sleepdebt's EP over on his Bandcamp: Gravity

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