Sleeplaboratory1.0 – Various Artists
Sleep CDs are hard to get right – for something to be soporific yet interesting is a tightrope of stimulation both under and over. And if you’ve followed my reviews anywhere you’ll know that I’m a) a medical insomniac b) on sleep meds for two decades and c) picky.
Thank goodness then, that the ever increasingly quality-controlled label whitelabelrecs presents an effective tablet of melatonin for this sufferer – which interests the mind as much as the deprived body. Maybe a little too much!
Janek Schaefer opens with a drone and some near-ASMR content as we slowly throb into Sven Laux’s excellent Sleep in C Minor, which is no insult to say he may have heard Jonny Greenwood’s The Master score. Natse’s Wandering Spirits also reminds me of a score, this time it’s Alan Parker’s Birdy by Peter Gabriel or even a bit of (Vivian) Kubrik’s Full Metal Jacket – but it’s thankfully ambient and botanical gardens-like – and there’s a slight problem here in that the top end might keep me awake, but it’s not abrasive.
The same alertness could be said of Valotihkuu’s track which is a little bright for my tastes, not a bad thing, but it’s a question of context, sequencing and theme. And the same tension of sleep-theme and upper register continues with Ben Rapp’s Fripp-tastic loops. Fantastic music, but this maybe should come first on the CD…
All of the selections here deserve a release and this CD features great work from the ever reliable Maps and Diagrams, James Osland’s tremulous shimmers are organic and settling – and whilst I’m not going to break down the entire CD here, it is a quality release.
Harry at Whitelabel seems to be on the cusp of something really important at the moment as it has to be said that this double gatefold package is extremely welcome. I like CDs, and I like it even more when labels take the time and effort to design gorgeous slipcases that have a life beyond a download. I bet the label will be releasing vinyl by the end of the year. I used to love it when I bought releases from Kompakt and the CD came with the vinyl. I’d pay extra and others would too…
So, another quality release. It’s just that it might have been interesting to package it as a ‘rest’ rather than sleep CD. But calling it a laboratory is a good idea. These are ideas to be tested. Also, what you have to remember is that to sedate me it takes horse tranquillisers, six massages and maybe a week of counselling, so all things considered, get it ordered and get some sleep – and if you don’t sleep, you’ll certainly rest.