The Sleeper Has Awakened - Self Titled [Thisco - 2012]
"The Sleeper Has Awakened" is the 3 track self titled debut of a musician who creates lo-fi ambient / melancholic rock instrumentals with guitar/bass playing and electronic beats. The release is short, around 15 minutes in length.
This is poorly recorded and mixed music, to a quite distracting extent - I don't consider cheap digital distortions a valid form of lo fi - they are simplistic algorithms that destroy most of the original signal. Even the cheapest programs, known for their frequent use by amateurs (such as FL Studio) could produce much more dynamic, atmospheric and layered sound than the thin, trebley digital harshness on this CD, which has no warmth or charm.
There is potential here, sure. The guitar playing pleasantly straddles the line between ethereal shoegaze naivete and black metal melancholy. Whenever a guitar idea is presented by itself, which happens at the beginning of each track, I think "That's beautiful!". Inevitably, however, a distorted beat enters and then repeats in a rigid, predictable fashion for several minutes. Many of the guitar notes are lost in the murk, as all the sounds are lumped in the center channel. The effect is especially unpleasant on headphones. It's a shame, I can faintly detect some very interesting and intelligent developments in the chord progressions, especially in "(Scenes From) A Silent Light", which has a certain stormy late romantic intensity.
The artist seems to be going for a chilled dark IDM feel with his beats, but doesn't add enough detail and variations, and what subtlety there is is ruined by the terrible distortion. The synthetic sounds are poorly blended with the acoustic instruments, as well, which sound dry, with hardly any reverb to be heard.
This 3 track album is only remotely listenable because it is so brief. These compositions are needlessly saturated with cheap distortion, and yet don't seem intended to sound particularly caustic or violent, rather ambient. The guitar work is great, but the electronic elements here do nothing but take away from it, and so I've come to the conclusion that this artist would be better playing this material with a band. In that setting, this music could breathe more, build momentum. As it is now, the repetitive percussion renders each of these tracks a stagnant plateau, something very difficult to become immersed in.Josh Landry