Dim The Lights

Category: music 388

Sleepy Driver pull back the layers to reveal hidden melodies and textures on latest release.

Matt Carter

I love it when bands decide to throw a curveball and challenge their audience with something completely unexpected. For me, there’s something exciting and admirable about sidestepping expectation and trying something new.  While I think all art should be about pushing boundaries and trying new things, it’s pretty easy for artists to paint themselves into a corner leaving little room for new ideas and directions. 

That’s why when I found this new album from Sleepy Driver in my inbox last week, I couldn’t wait to put it on. The accompanying text spelled it out plain as day.

If this album has a concept, it is one of texture, and the revelation that underneath the surface of a recorded song lives a whole other piece of music. When you strip away the “composition” – key song elements like the words, the base chords, the vocal melodies – and you let the instruments that support the song come through to the forefront, what remains is no less beautiful, no less unnerving. Sometimes what is left bears no resemblance to the original song. 

So, essentially what’s happening here is that the band picked through some tracks and removed ‘the song’ to let the additional instrumentation breathe and speak on its own. All of these sounds have been collected from previous Sleepy Driver songs taken from the band’s discography, yet they sound like a completely different band playing completely different music. 

“I assembled this playlist using a cross-section of songs from each record plus one from our forthcoming release,” said Sleepy Driver’s Peter Hicks. “Tunes have been deconstructed, re-mixed, re-imagined using what was already there from the original sessions. No additional instruments have been tracked. I feel it highlights the contributions of every member of Sleepy Driver: Dave Palmer, John Heinstein, Ethan Young-Lai, Mike Hatheway and Barry Hughes. Their fingerprints are all over this.” 

There are no vocals and no familiar roots rock structures on this recording. Keys, synths and pedal steel move to the front of the line on Decomposed resulting in an atmospheric, ambient listening experience that not only shows off a side of the group you’ve never heard before but also gives great insight into the depth of composition and the several well-arranged layers that exist behind the music. A bold and brilliant move all around.

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