Review of The Sleeping Morning [12k2007]

Tokafi (.COM)

Searches for magical abeyance: A dormant daydream between ethereal open-window Jazz and Vocal Ambient.

How long are ten years? Based on the renewal rates of medial cycles, it is an eternity. When Savvas Ysatis and Taylore Deupree first met, Ysatis was a Greek in New York, full of ambitions and a hatching career as a techno musician, while Deupree still earned most of his money working as a graphic designer. This was in 1993, the year that Taylor Deupree managed to secure himself a Roland 303 Bass Machine, recording the underground classic Acid Technology on a single night with his friends Jason Szostek and Dietrich Schonemann. Things were happening everywhere, the club revolution was about to hit the world like a tidal wave.

For four years, Deupree and Ysatis would engage in various projects and a proliferating discography, which increasingly reflected their interest in styles beyond the horizon of a punching four to the floor kickdrum. When Ysatis returned home again in 1997, this didn’t only end an immensely creative co-operation, but also closed the page on a seminal chapter of electronic music. The world had changed and it was time to both solidify what had been achieved and ponder the next stage. It would take some time before their lifelines would interesect again.

If you like, the title of this EP can be considered as an implicit indication that we have now entered this second phase in their relationship and as a metaphor for future ventures. The great thing about the renewed activities between these two musicians must surely be that they never ran the danger of ending up a purely nostalgic affair. Admittedly, Savvas Ysatis had returned to his techno roots at the turn of the centuries, signing a deal with Berlin-based label Tresor and founding the similarly-minded Sonar imprint himself. But then again, his activities were never restricted to a single sound or a linear, formalistic production process. Through his 12k label, meanwhile, Deupree has proved him to be a true romantic and a musician equally in love with the hidden meaning underneath his textures as well as with these textures themselves. So if The Sleeping Morning comes as a huge surprise even to the initiated, then this paradoxically only meets expectations.

Surely, it sounds like nothing they have done before. On four tracks, Ysatis and Deupree create a warm and woozy world rising from a delicately dormant daydream. On the one hand, acoustic guitars, glockenspiel and percussion, all recorded with ample room atmospherics in between them and the microphone, create a silent pastoral sensation. On the other, smooth drone layers, claustrophobic compressions and the voluminous stabs of a monosynth point at an uneasy, surreal subcontext. The loose ends of the intermittent, sleepwalking drum rolls, singular melodic motives and chord progressions – lingering in the air like the scent of a faint perfume – are held together by the softly sung vocals of Savvas Ysatis. On the opening “Reservoir”, the result is ethereal open-window Jazz, on the quasi-title track “Listen to the Morning Sleeping” things are closer to a hermetic kind of Vocal Ambient.

Only towards the end does the music gradually disentangle itself from this beautifully suffocating embrace. A gentle bass beats friendly and invitingly underneath the thin and shimmering pads of “Under Your Breath”, while “The Youthful Sea” even flirts with catchy melodies and slow grooves. The message is clear: The day has broken, time to leave the bed.

To me, what makes The Sleeping Morning special, however, are not the open approximations towards other genres. Even when structures are concrete and tangible, after all, Ysatis and Deupree do not attempt to lay down a simple electropop pastiche. Their approach always strives for the improvisational spontaneity of an ensemble, searches for the magical abeyance only a group of individuals performing in the same room can achieve. Events in this space are determined by the intuitive logic of the moment, not by smart concepts realised in front of a laptop.

This is why you can listen to the EP for several times on a row without getting bored and without feeling you’ve unraveled all of it secrets. It is also the reason why, to these artists, ten years are nothing but the blink of an eye: Despite the immense technological progress of the past decade, empathy and mutual understanding still guide their creativity.

View Release