Review of Sleeping Pills [12k1054]

Boomkat (UK)

All but entirely sidestepping the aesthetics of digital recording, this album from Pillowdiver (aka Berlin’s Rene Margraff) is driven by guitar, stomp boxes and even fourtrack recording. 12k has proven over recent years that it’s clearly a label open to deviation from its firmly electronic heritage, and previous outings from the likes of Seaworthy have confirmed that more conventional and organic instrumentation is not necessarily anathema with its music policy. On Sleeping Pills the guitar is used to create complex and fluid sonorities in conjunction with synthesizer and field recording excerpts, transmitting vaporous ambient passages and hiss-laden textural sequences. Oddly enough, Margraff works for a well-known music software company, yet there’s little indication of that in these compositions; the lulling post-rock undertones and dream-like tape sounds distance Pillowdiver’s music from the ordinarily rather sanitary world of 12k’s electronic music and pieces like “Eleven” coarse with warm, noisy timbres and the stately iridescence of steel strings that glimmer outwards from the heart of the mix. On “Seven” you can just about discern loop structures lending a rhythmic element to proceedings, flickering melodically amongst an almost Tim Hecker-like stream of gushing, chaotic friction. Sleeping Pills is a far more orderly and finely crafted album than its Jazzmaster vs. fourtrack recorder origins might suggest, and far from being an exercise in lo-fi home recording it actually reveals itself as a rigorous, richly rewarding – and above all, very musical – exploration of guitar sound.

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