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The shape of sound: Sound Sleep’s psychedelic kaleidoscope

Published March, 2014
by Easterndaze

Exitab, the Slovak label, is on fire. The handful of releases that have come out in the last 6 months, make for an impressive manifest of the Slovak alternative scene, mostly (but, not completely) spear­headed by this label. Sound Sleep came out only couple of weeks after their last release and if you’ve heard about Dead Janitor, hailing from eastern Slovakia, then you are on the right track to find out who is behind the album called Shape. Two 15 minute long tracks are released on the tape which is becoming quite a popular tool of trade on Exitab.

Shape | EXTB053 by SOUND SLEEP

First of all, what is the difference between these two guises – Dead Janitor and Sound Sleep? The most obvious difference is a more psychedelic sound relying on the sonic experiments with various synths, samples and noises. In comparison with Dead Janitor’s IDM based work, which, by his own words, is heavily influenced by post­punk of the 80’s and revolves around glitchy polyrhythms, this, on the other hand, is more beatless stuff albeit still delivering a a repetitive lecture in heavy interpretation of an acid trip into a concrete jungle, a topic that is quite common in the ouvre of the contemporary electronic Slovak producers as an antidote to the dancefloor-centric. Gradually evolving atmospheres in tracks sometimes come really close to the sound of the Bristol­-based label Subtext with its low bass-heavy drones and rawness on the first side of the tape. 

Small themes and motives emerge on both sides, slowly sliding from one to the other. Second Shape is an arpeggio filled jam filled with crackles and quite organic sounds recalling a night picnic by an intoxicated pond. Crazy and sick moods consisting of mutated voices counting to 10, a repetitive vocal reminding us about the constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America and possibly a sample of William S. Burroughs looped.

Reading this may sound as quite an insane combination, but surprisingly, it works. All of this is carefully built together in a homogeneous way. Lots of sounds and textured layers appear and fade into oblivion. Tracks are passing by smoothly and there is always something extra which pops up and keeps you listening. And yeah, beats are also present but not as the main driving force. Distorted and heavy kicks are a companion to the rest of the soundscale and its more about the equality than master­-slave principle. It’s a disturbing listen in terms of atmosphere, definitely not in terms of the final composition.

Shape | EXTB053 by SOUND SLEEP

And that’s maybe the problem of the medium chosen for this release. I really don’t understand why  Exitab recently started to put everything out on tape? Is it for the sake of a physical fetish, or trying to keep up with the latest  trend? Tape is great, but definitely not a good medium for all kind of music. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the option to listen to this from tape, but Sound Sleep is based on rich layers of textures and weird, ambient melodies and this can be possibly harm it when played from the tape. But this is just a guess and maybe useless rant, as I got my hands on the digital release only. Still, worth listening and a nice contribution to the ever-expanding Exitab catalogue which is now turning more dirty and gritty with each and every release.

by b.arctor