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Sleepmakeswaves - ... and so we destroyed everything CD (album) cover



Post Rock/Math rock

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4 stars sleepmakeswaves' official debut LP "...and so we destroyed everything" is often confused as the band's sophomore effort. It's easy to see why; their EP "in today already walks tomorrow" clocked in at 37 minutes long with its six tracks, but more than that was a very confident and coherent release constructed with the kind of thoroughness that is not normally expected from an EP, something generally associated more with interesting ideas yet to be fully realized, or even b-sides. While by no means ground-breaking or amazing, it put sleepmakeswaves on the map as a band to watch, and showed definite signs of a promising future.

Here on their debut, that promise begins to be realized in a big way. On a cursory glance, it would be easy to write off the album as just another post-rock record; long track titles, tremolo-laden guitars, build-ups and's all there. But sleepmakeswaves set themselves apart from the crowd with a progressive sensibility and solid sense of song-structure that is sorely lacking from most bands in the genre. This is evident right from the get-go on the anthemic opener "to you they are birds, to me they are voices in the forest." After a short and quiet synth intro, the track bursts to life, assaulting the listener with a beautiful aural display of soaring guitars and booming drums, urging you to pump your fist to the sky. A minute or so later it dissolves, only to begin the journey back up again to another arena-sized crescendo...and then it does it yet again, disappearing into nothing but a faint bassline and galloping snare drum, the latter of which slowly leads the charge uphill towards a magnificent climax that will refuse to exit your brain for days to come, finishing tastefully with a lovely violin coda accompanied by apocalyptic, distorted guitar chords. This pattern of build and release is repeated many times throughout the album (Such as in the 11-minutes-long thunderous centrepiece "a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun," a simply massive entity with an inspired use of horns), and will sound all too familiar for the frequent post-rock listener, but the way it is executed here ensures it never gets tiresome or sounds formulaic, but is instead a natural progression of peaks and valleys within the song structure.

And therein lies perhaps the greatest strength of this album. There's no doubting the quality of the crescendos; indeed, the utmost importance is always placed on musicality, and never do these peaks feel self-indulgent or meaningless instead of powerful. But the real beauty is how the band manages the space in between these highs. The attention to detail here is excellent, with little touches and splashes of colour ensuring that even the slowest moving or quietest of sections are captivating, and never just pure meandering. There is no slogging through a tiresome and monotonous build up to get to the good bit - the entire song is the good bit. Just as much value is placed on the journey as the destination, and the low points are not just breaks to catch your breath before the next high point, but are often as engaging and memorable as the high points themselves.

The band also proves themselves capable of stepping back from the epics and putting together more concise pieces, with three of the eight tracks coming in under 4 minutes. "(hello) cloud mountain" is at once a lovely little tune and bombastic fireworks display, showcasing both the band's ear for melody and their skill at creating crescendos, managing to be a fulfilling and complete experience in a short space of time. An unexpected highlight also emerges in the form of "we like you when you're awkward," a simple yet beautiful ballad-like piece featuring great interplay between a synth, electronic beat and acoustic guitar that is easily one of the most moving moments on the album, as well as being a great example of the band's versatility.

Saving the best for last, though, album closer and title-track "...and so we destroyed everything" affirms that, adaptable though they may be, the leviathans are where the band truly shines. At over 12 minutes it is the band's longest piece to date, and never once does it let go of your attention, progressing in unexpected yet logical ways, putting everything the band has to offer on display. From mournful piano to droning crescendos to spaced out electronics to even metallic riffs recalling the post-metal influence that was prevalent on their EP, the song takes a number of different musical themes and ideas and applies them in different contexts throughout its duration, a change in song-writing style that proves entirely successful. A powerful and beautiful journey, if there is one song you listen to on this album, let it be this one, as it is truly a progressive post-rock masterpiece.

Production-wise the album is for the most part crisp and clear. It brings a certain shine or even "bounciness" to the album, but this is a welcome effect that services the album well. Occasionally the drums seem placed slightly oddly in the mix, bordering on the line of not being suitably audible for the context, but this is a minor complaint. Also of note is the significant electronic influence. Synths, glitches, beats and all sorts are found throughout the album, providing a large amount of detail and adding another layer of variety and complexity to the arrangements. A couple of tracks are even based entirely around these electronic elements, such as "our time is short but your watch it slow" or aforementioned "we like you when you're awkward." While by no means the only band in the genre to incorporate electronics, it definitely gives them an edge to what is often a fairly traditional "post-rock" sound.

Unfortunately, the album isn't all sunshine and flowers. The album's flaws primarily manifest themselves in the second and third tracks. The latter, "our time is short but your watch is slow," is frankly a somewhat dull affair. It's pleasant enough to listen to, but feels as though it's building to something that never comes, instead choosing to lie down with a whimper. It could be argued that it is somewhat of a bridge between tracks, a calm before the storm of "a gaze and blank and pitiless as the sun," but nevertheless more attention could have been paid to the song-writing here, as similar bridging track "we like you when you're awkward" manages to stand up tall on its own despite its similar length and slow nature. Meanwhile, the former piece, "in limbs and joints" is a more traditional rocking track which, although beginning with a nice atmosphere, is ultimately unimpressive. Its sound becomes rather grating as time goes on, and the climax is thoroughly underwhelming and lacking of substance. The album manages to recover from this and its momentum is not severely harmed, but this one-two punch of mediocrity so early on is a definite dent in an album that is otherwise filled with quality.

Ultimately, "...and so we destroyed everything," like its predecessor EP, is not a ground-breaking album. But unlike the EP, it is an amazing one nonetheless. If originality is your primary concern, or if you're not a fan of post-rock to begin with, then this may not be for you. While they undoubtedly put their own spin on things, at the end of the day this is still a somewhat traditional post-rock record. But where it shines is the tightness of the song-writing, the constant focus on melody and progression, the driving rhythmic force, and the sheer power and emotion that bleeds from these songs. Almost every track here is a memorable one that will lodge itself into your brain and refuse to budge. It may not be revolutionary, but I'll be damned if it isn't fantastic.

Report this review (#537653)
Posted Friday, September 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A refreshing new collection of Post Rock/Math Rock songs from some very technically talented instrumentalists who are also very creative composers. As said by Braid, there is really nothing terribly new or earth-shatteringly groundbreaking in terms of PR/MR sound or structure, it's just refreshing to here an attempt in this sub-genre by some very competent, creative musicians. The drumming is especially vibrant and unusually (for this sub-genre) varied as played by a very talented Aussie, Will Smith. Also, guitar playing isn't so rote and mathematical as many other PR/MR groups. There is variety, texture, emotion, and skill on display here. Check this one out, peple--it will NOT bore you with its repetition and predictability (though, in the end, it is still PR/MR structured and, therefore, predictable.) Synths/keys, trumpets, strings, varied guitar effects, and even vocals make this an interesting and enjoyable listen--repeatedly, too. Try it out--Sleepmakeswaves has created an album that is definitely an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. IMO, this is the Best Post Rock album of 2011!
Report this review (#564394)
Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars sleepmakeswaves' debut full length album has certainly gained a great number of positive responses from both the online community and the Australian public. A popular live act, they have toured with the likes of Karnivool, earned a spot as feature artist on Triple J and also gained a 2012 ARIA nomination for this very album.

There's nothing terribly new that the band brings to the post rock genre, but what they do, they do very well. This is great music for having on in the background, or to relax to late at night. It's unobtrusive for the most part, as good post rock should be. By the same token, it's not totally engaging either. I find it difficult to immerse myself within the music, rather it just slips by without too much effect, and so in that regard I really need to be in the right mood to listen to it.

I'll single out track 4 "A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun" for special mention. Clocking in at around 11 minutes it is one of the longest on the album. It begins with some muted guitar strumming and builds nicely, until at 3:30 it explodes with some of the most energetic moments of the album. Here the music is almost transcendent, with power chords merging with trilling guitar, synths and percussion in perfect harmony.

Production especially is top notch. Each of the instruments occupy their own space and there's plenty of room for the music to breathe. At no point does it sound over compressed or too busy, a perfect balance for this kind of music.

Another highlight is the drumming of William Smith, who has sadly now left the band, but provides some amazing texture to the soundscape of this album.

Overall the band is one of the best post rock acts around and worthy of a listen for fans of the genre.

Report this review (#948871)
Posted Wednesday, April 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars An extremely well written album by Sydney siders Sleepmakeswaves. Unlike contemporaries such as Explosions In The Sky and Mogwai, Sleepmakeswaves add a sense of pace and dynamics to their music making it feel like more of a musical roller coaster than what the other said artists which contain less energy and pace. Stand out tracks for me are, to you they are birds, to me they are voices in the forest and our time is short but your watch is slow/a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun. A very solid collection of tracks and I will be looking forward to their next release.
Report this review (#992997)
Posted Sunday, July 7, 2013 | Review Permalink

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