Sleep Deprived, Transcendence Through Bonding of Psychedelic Phenomenon, Acephale Winter Productions, cassette AWP013 (2014)
For the insomniacs among us, here comes a band whose name holds promise of a panacea to end those long stretches of dark, tired wakefulness – yet which might deliver far more than what we wish for. The duo Sleep Deprived purveys a soundtrack of sprawling unearthly and bewitching cosmic ambient psychedelia, murky in intent, dark in beauty, ghostly at times and frequently delirious and close to complete derangement. Though its sound is very good, the music is simply far more than its cassette format can hold and I surmise the reason it’s on cassette is that AWP cannot afford more than that at the present time. People who know the AWP label might be expecting something black metal in nature but at a strict technical level this release does not fall into that category. What must have attracted AWP’s attention though is the slightly sinister style of the music that might hint at a malevolent potential and which suggests that chaos and evil are never far away.
Innocent souls on quests to understand their purpose in life and who think to take the easy route via experimentation with hallucinogenic substances are possibly in danger of falling into eternal blackness and the madness that might exist within. Since spiritual transcendence of a kind based on hope that ends in downfall falls fairly and squarely within the ambit of black metal, it should be no surprise that a black metal label has released this work.
The whole recording covers a narrative of an acid trip from start to uncertain finish and possibly no escape. Once begun, the protagonist is at risk of being revisited by the same visions even years after the initial journey. Strange and stranger synth-drone odysseys that embrace listeners fully and draw them deep into their meanderings, taking subjects far beyond dull reality, are at every step, every bifurcating path. Each track is a wormhole into another plane of existence. As might be guessed at, the best music is often the deepest, the darkest, the most spacious or the most mysterious – and sometimes all of these. There is an impression of extreme isolation which may be another reason AWP picked up the recording. While sounds seem long and tedious, always in search of melodic or rhythmic certainty and direction, the music does have its own logic; of course it’s unfathomable to us so we must trust it as our guide. Therein lies the danger for who knows if our guide is fickle, full of whimsy and not quite sane?
Generally the A-side of the cassette is faster and more varied while the B-side is slow, more amorphous and pensive as well. The second half of the recording doesn’t hold as many surprises as the first half and seems more predictable, content to tread water.
Altogether the album clocks in at about 100 minutes but it does seem a lot longer which depending on the point of view may be good or bad. Not all of it is enthralling and as it progresses, it does become a test of listeners’ endurance to hear it all. If we’re to be serious space travellers, we must take the long monotonous stretches of sailing across the universe in our stride.
Contact: Sleep Deprived
Contact: Acephale Winter Productions