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A Light Sleeper


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A Light Sleeper Distinction (A Ballet in Six Parts) album cover
3.96 | 5 ratings | 1 reviews | 20% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ends and Means (4:12)
2. Invisible Measures (5:05)
3. Blankly Stated Spaces (7:01)
4. The View from Above You (4:19)
5. Ubiquity (1:01)
6. Distinction (A Means to an End) (8:48)

Total Time 30:26

Line-up / Musicians

- Maria Elena Hernandez / alto saxophone, clarinet, voices, percussion
- Matthew Jung / drums, keyboards
- David Keller / cello, tambura
- Traci Newhouse / viola, backing voices
- D. Pennepalli / guitar, backing voices

Releases information

Digital album

Thanks to DamoXt7942 for the addition
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A LIGHT SLEEPER Distinction (A Ballet in Six Parts) ratings distribution

(5 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

A LIGHT SLEEPER Distinction (A Ballet in Six Parts) reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "A Light Sleeper" is a RIO/Avant Prog band from Chicago who released 2 EPs in 2012. Their first regular album wasn't released until May of 2019 and is entitled "Distinction (A Ballet in Six Parts)" which is based on the creative process. For this album, the band has grown from a quartet to a quintet featuring the original band members Maria Elena Hernandez (saxophone, clainet, percussion and voices), Traci Newhouse (viola and backup voice), D. Pennepalli (guitars and backup vocals), and Matthew Jung on drums and keyboards. The fifth and newest member of the band for this album is David Keller on cello and tambura. Each one of the six parts is divided by the tracks and the album is available on Bandcamp.

The first part of this ballet is "Ends and Means" (4:12). Starting with a simple acoustic guitar, a very symphonic sound comes in from the keys which is later replaced by the viola. Drums suddenly come in and change the tone of the movement to a more frantic sound and then vocals come in with non-standard structure, an interesting and odd use of intervals, singing and quasi- spoken words. The viola seems to have the most say in this track and the guitar bursts out with strong chords from time to time. The music quickly shifts in dynamics and moving from uneasy calm to sudden outbursts of heaviness. "Invisible Measures" (5:05) combines more acoustic guitar, viola and cello, which is used to create some of the heavier passages. Soon, the sax shines through, but all instruments have some say in the matter. Vocals start after a minute, again with untraditional structure. The melodies and themes are distinct, yet a bit complex. The sound is quite organic and natural feeling, even with it's shifting dynamics. During the instrumental break, repeated themes with interesting interval shifts keep things interesting. At four minutes, the clarinet and drums have a duel and then the acoustic guitar and sax come in to create more uneasiness to everything.

"Blankly Stated Spaces" (7:01) begins with a more western / gypsy style mixed between the guitar and the sax, yet it is slow and pensive. The viola and cello do most of the building here. Around two minutes, a short vocal section is backed by plucked strings and the music builds off of that. A sax sweetly sings over the top of this pizzicato sound and then it gets more abrasive. Then the cello and viola take turns sawing away while scattered sprinklings of guitar and keys pop up. A whirling synth effect goes flying off into space and the strings and sax continue to work together. Later, the synth comes back in whirling around like a dervish giving the otherwise organic and brassy sound a humorous edge.

"The View from Above You" (4:19) begins with slow moving strings, this time on a more sustained feeling until the drums come and go stirring things up a bit from time to time. A playful, descending riff repeats interrupted for a short dissonant section and around 3 minutes, things calm down and the vocals come in. At first this is backed just by the strings, but the 2nd stanza adds the drums that help move it all forward. The vocals continue with an interesting harmonic interval. "Ubiquity" (1:01) is a short and dissonant instrumental with sustained viola and cello.

"Distiction (a means to an end)" (8:48) is the last movement of the ballet. The cello wanders about along with screeching viola and plucked tambura. This track continues in a more unstructured and dissonant manner until just after 2 minutes, when the cello and drums create some kind of consistant pattern, however, the screeching sax and clarinet keep coming in to make things chaotic and dissonant. The track continues in this manner with sections that sail along smoothly and then get broken up with bursts of confusion. The vocals don't come in until just before the 5 minute mark. Again, the song structure is non traditional. Some echoing effects get added to the vocals just before the give way to the instruments again. Processed wordless vocals echo along with a more smoothly flowing section of strings and drums, later taken over with acoustic guitar and picked strings. They move faster and faster and other instruments quickly join together to create a loud and chaotic ending.

This music is quite unique, though it is also strangely melodic, though not in any traditional sense. There is a nice, organic feel to it all which is because of the extensive use of the viola and cello, which surprisingly adds a lot of dynamic and sometimes even heavy texture to everything. The addition of sax makes it even that much more unique. There is a sparse use of guitar and keyboards, though they are in there, they are not the lead instruments in most cases. For the most part, there is surprisingly little use of dissonance for an avant prog band, though it is in there, mostly on the last track, however, there is a nice, unconventional use of intervals in the melodies and harmonies that make up for that, and the use of dynamics and mood shifts is excellent. It's not perfect, but it is excellent and different, a bit quirky at times, but not over the top. I wish it were longer, however, as it only barely exceeds 30 minutes. But it is still worthwhile for those that love their music organic with splashes of synth and electronics to keep it a bit on the modern side, but that is also used sparingly. Easily a 4 star album.

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