Review of Sleeping Pills [12k1054]

Silent Ballet (.COM)

There is music aimed at putting one to sleep, and there is music whose unsettling beat keeps you awake, staring at the ceiling, counting the seconds and the notes as you pray for some shuteye. Some albums talk about sleep, while others approach different themes in order to induce the feeling. Pillowdiver (Berlin’s Rene Margraff) and his Sleeping Pills are somewhat borderline, as he explores the vast range of physical sensations one goes through during that magical spacey moment, right before drifting through the mysterious rabbit hole into sleep.

From the very beginning, Pillowdiver establishes the rules of a new grammar of emptiness. With a luring guitar as a predicate and field recordings as a subject, the artist does not construct songs, but complex melodic poems, swarming in seductive layers of sounds. The album’s musical simplicity is disarming, while the extended palette of feelings it induces can easily be taken as overwhelming. To some extent, Sleeping Pills does not have a starting point; it goes around in endless loops, ceasing to buzz in one’s ears when slumber eventually kicks in.

Quiescent as it may be, the music here can be deceiving, for the post-rock rooted guitar sets expectations that are never reached. The album is so concealed in its own perpetual drone that it doesn’t, even for one second, explode. There is no climax, but the feeling that the songs are alive is quite present. For almost an hour, Sleeping Pills manages to breathe tranquillity deep into one’s core, whispering subtle lullabies having an antithetical effect.

Pillowdiver does not create music to sleep to, but instead invents a space where you can doze off. It revives the interval between sleeping and living, where you find yourself lying in bed and all of a sudden everything starts spinning out of control; no sooner had you closed your eyes than you’re in a different place. Brooding and warm, the album slowly cracks open as the tracks progress, displaying a tendency towards reverb and sensuous textures. Its melancholy, almost thematic songs appear as in a perpetual transformation, much like a dream universe, where everything changes by the second without one realising and soon enough they are bound to become your complete pulse, throbbing at your deep breaths and skipping beats alongside your heart.

Dreams sometimes feel like a cosmic conspiration and throughout nine songs, Pillowdiver seems to explore the endless possibilities this might entail. Heartfelt and complete, his album works in its wholeness and manages to keep your eyes and mind open until the last note has been played. Subtle at all times, it might come as the perfect treat at the end of an irksome day. -Diana Sitaru

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