...and so we destroyed everything

Written by: DR on 06/09/2011 15:21:36

Sleepmakeswaves' debut release, "in today already walks tomorrow", wasn't a particularly original album and I don't really find myself going back to it that often anymore, so I sometimes wonder whether in my over-zealousness I awarded it a near-perfect score undeservedly? Then, when I do go back to it I realise the grade was entirely justified, because more than any instrumental band I have ever listened to, Sleepmakeswaves make me feel.

For instrumental music to make that emotional connection with the listener through the power of their music alone is rare, and it's something only the best bands can achieve. Sleepmakewaves did on that release, and with it they promised to be one of the brightest post-rock prospects around. However, the band hit turmoil when the guitarist, Tom, left the band, and then all of the money saved for the recording of this album was stolen. Not ones to be defeated, the band picked themselves back up, dusted themselves off, and with "...and so we destroyed everything", they emerge from that difficult patch triumphant.

Sleepmakeswaves embrace the post-rock tag without hint of irony, taking influence from the genre's heavyweights like God Is An Astronaut, Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai - they even lean towards post-metal such as Isis in places. Combined with their own ideas on how to bring the listener with them to other-worldly places in their beautiful, at times harsh, symphonic post-rock vessel; the end result is surprisingly a sound that doesn't have any imitators, making it one Sleepmakeswaves can safely call their own.

While the idea of the guitar-fuelled crescendo isn't exactly virgin-ground, couple Sleepmakeswaves' ambition with their fantastic musicianship and the result is instrumental climaxes so breath-takingly executed, it's like seeing the sun set for the very first time. Aside from being just that damn great, they seem able to go further into the clouds than their peers; they are braver, unrestrained, and able to squeeze that little extra out of their instruments, to push their crescendos higher and make their music utterly captivating.

Where a lot of the genre can fall down by effectively trying to comprise records of all highs, Sleepmakeswaves set themselves apart with an understanding of how to use the quieter lows to give their albums a balance, which maximises the potential impact of each end of the scale. "in today..." demonstrated this wonderfully. It wasn't an album of all highs; in fact, I would argue that it was built around four songs, with quieter more subdued efforts interspersed, acting as calming periods for the listener, bringing them down before being launched by soaring crescendos. This understanding has carried over into "...and so we destroyed everything".

Opener "to you they are birds, to me they are voices in the forest" is so epic that Australia should make it their national anthem, and "in limbs and joints" shows how the band have developed their abilities to juxtapose the intensity of post-metal and picturesque beauty within the time-frame of a relatively short four and a half minutes. "a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun" is the centrepiece of the album and one of the most exhilarating songs you're likely to hear all year. A typically tension-building cameo from spoken-word artist Matt Finney and the heartbeat-like pulsating of the guitars are built on by beautiful melodies with a sinister foundation underlying, threatening and toying with the listener by suggesting build-then-release explosions, eventually bursting in a searing guitar-driven yet textured climax, reaching heights that even Orion would struggle to touch.

In the second half of the album there are songs of a similar ilk that are similarly excellent, for instance "(hello) cloud mountain" and the title-track closer, but it is the slower, calmer efforts interspersed in between them like intermissions that not only allow the listener a chance to catch their breath, but to also showcase how far the band have come as composers, in terms of meticulously constructing songs that rely less on power and more on precisely produced textures, drawing from a wider pallet of instrumentation in order to create layers of ambience. "we like you when you're awkward" is a stunning two-minute composition of buckled keyboards and minimalistic acoustics, while (the awesomely titled) "our time is short but your watch is slow", sitting right before the aforementioned centre-piece of the album, draws the listener in with the band's most menacing electronic textures to date.

Perhaps most of all, Sleepmakeswaves remain a band who know how to create defining moments. Moments of sheer brilliance that seize your attention and refuse to relent until they have left you breathless and exhausted. Their willingness to go further and their ability to actually get there and coerce that little extra out of their compositions takes the listener places other bands in their field couldn't even dream of reaching. This isn't what makes Sleepmakeswaves a mere 'good' post-rock band, but now one of the best around right now.

Download: a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun; to you they are birds, to me they are voices in the forest; (hello) cloud mountain; we like you when you're awkward
For The Fans of: Laura, This Will Destroy You, pg.lost, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky
Listen: Official site

Release Date 21.07.2011
Birds Robe Records

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