(Otherworldly Mystics, 2015)
I was alone, home, asleep in my bed, when I was conjured at “3:16 AM” by something. It was barely a sound, barely a hint of an inspiration in my unconscious mind, but I sat up, swiveled, and stood, and made my way to the door of my bedroom. However, instead of opening on the living room, like it normally does, it revealed an expansive vista, a plateau from which I could see my entire town, beyond that the entire surrounding countryside, and then, the sea. I was mesmerized – I turned around, and sure enough, my bed was still there, but I was not in it. I was here, at the eternal precipice of night magic, the arms of the Milky Way stretching clearly in the sky, unpolluted by manmade light. I lifted my arms and ascended.
The Sleepwalk’s 2015 cassette, Staring at the Stars While You Lay on Your Back on a Trampoline, is nine meditations on exactly this – stargazing, in one form of consciousness or another. The guitars are reverbed to a dreamlike quality, contributing to the otherworldliness of the visions they conjure, and on almost every occasion, when you imagine yourself about to sail over the edge of something (cliff, waterfall, building, … cliff), they kick into a new gear, often distorted, and lift you to the safety of, well, not falling at least. Mostly it’s sense of soaring above the earth, through the atmosphere, and into space. Instead of laying on your back and counting stars, you’re shooting through the universe counting supernovas. Yeah, that’s it.
“3:16 AM” (in case you were wondering at the quotes above, it’s a song title – but that paragraph wasn’t for explanation, was it?) begins the tape with wisps of formless tone, a setting ripe for meditation on whatever trampoline you’re laying on in whatever backyard you end up in in your neighborhood. Then it’s beautiful song after beautiful song, vocals cloaked and mixed back, cooed like those of a hypnotist readying you for eternal stasis. “I Dunno” may be my favorite early track, as somebody hits a stompbox halfway through for a level of stratospheric intensity that’s as overwhelming as it is appropriate.
Another nice trick occurs in the second half, where a second meditative piece, “The Horse Whose Bones Made the Glue That Holds Everyone Together Doesn’t Have Any Bones Left” (OK, that’s a great title) brushes against the interstellar intensity of “Snowed In” which immediately follows it. The Sleepwalk, if good at nothing else (and they are, don’t get me wrong), know the value of a good dynamic shift. The white heat of “The Hole” follows that, and burns brightly and quickly before fading out on the magnificently tranquil title track. It’s a gorgeous organ meditation that mimics unconsciousness/semiconsciousness in all its weirdness, beauty, and intimidation. You never know where your mind is going to take you, and you never really know if you’re mind is the one actually taking you or if you’ve developed the ability to psychically move through space and time. That second option would be pretty rad.
The Sleepwalk is Rob from San Diego. He did a great job on this tape. How do I quantify that, you ask? Easy – I’ve seen visions. After listening. You may too. Now, back to bed, the lot of you.
RIYL: Whirr, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Yo La Tengo