Plunderphonics and melancholy mix to create a sense of loss, longing, and giving up just a bit on Music for Voyeur’s second outing, The Long Sleep. With its well-planned jumble of post-rock melodies, long sound bites, and sonic distortion, the disc gives off an interesting sense of disjointed intimacy. You’re being shown someone else’s private story/stories, but you’re also being asked to take the feel of the music into account, but you’re also having random things thrown at you while you try to figure out what to focus on. Sometimes it’s subtle, like the almost-too-closely miked rasp of guitar strings on “It Will Be the Last Time,” coming off as the only harsh aspect of a quiet duet with piano. Or a sudden whir of gritty sound that rolls in, then fades. Sometimes it’s right there in your face, like the howl of barnyard animals and the roar of an engine in “September” or the wail of a baby crying–which later turns to laughter–in “Someone Else’s Life.” Musician Rick Senley uses all this to create a nice dichotomy without being super-blunt about it. The base music, the elegantly simple guitar and piano songs that are trying to tell their story, are excellent on their own, but they take on a more vital role when they’re crushed into this mix. Senley delivers his strongest and most affecting work on “Jane.” Here he brings together a beautifully sad piano song with a spoken-word piece, then peppers the background with curling electronic sounds and random wah-wah cries of guitar. If you’re not a little sad after you listen to this, professional assistance may be required.
My initial listens to The Long Sleep were not the easiest. Senley’s interruptive, mess-with-the-moment manipulations bordered on aggravating. And yet, I had to keep going back to listen again. The more I paid attention, the less heavy-handed and random it all seemed. To be honest, those barnyard animals still irk me, but there’s enough at play here, enough of an intelligent challenge that feels thematic, to reward a bit of patience. Have a go.
Available from the Music for Voyeurs web site.