With Classic Rock Through The Ages

REVIEW: sleepmakeswaves - Love Of Cartography

Post Rock was always a strange genre to me. I never really understood what Rock you could have after Rock? But when I was scouring Australia for new Progressive music I came across a group of bands calling themselves The Birds Robe Collective. Post Rockers sleepmakeswaves was one of the bands in that collective.

Now Birds Robe is a fully-fledged record label and the label's forerunner is undoubtedly sleepmakeswaves. They have enjoyed recent international success touring Europe as one of Australia's premier Post Rock bands.

What is Post Rock I hear you ask? I put that question to band member Otto Wicks-Green a couple of years ago when he appeared on Kaleidoscope Ears. He seemed to struggle for an answer, but I felt he used an excellent single word to describe what this instrumental band does with rock instruments.

"We create crescendos", he said.

And that is to me, the main difference between Post Rock and Progressive music. Post rockers aim to build up into explosive emotional bursts of intense sound and then bring you safely back to ground again. I've heard some describe it as "Prog for punks who aren't very good musicians" but yet others describe it as "music with all the elements of thinking man's music but still cool and accessible".

So it seems Post Rock may be a very important link for the younger generation to step into other areas of Prog. But then again, the wall of sound technique that is such an integral feature of Post Rock has been around since the days of Phil Spector has it not?

My first experience with sleepmakeswaves was their first album ....and so we destroyed everything. It was an album that I couldn't get off my regular rotation list for about a year. It was that good. It was unlike almost anything else I listened to, so I delved into a few other Post Rock bands to see what they had to offer. While I found many interesting, none of them had the emotional impact on me that sleepmakeswaves did.

And so we come to the new album, Love Of Cartography. I knew that the band had been working on new material for some time, but this would be the first recordings that included new drummer Tim Adderley (who also plays with Sydney band Pirate), joining existing members Otto Wicks Green (guitar) Jonathan Khor (guitar) and Alex Wilson (bass). As we clicked over to 2014, I wondered if this would be the year for the long-awaited new album?

And then came the announcement that the band would be crowd-funding the new album. I felt the target was high at $25,000. But the band was determined to use legendary studio 301 in Byron Bay in northern New South Wales. Would they reach the target? They made it with a few days to spare and it was all go. Phew!

The result is nothing short of spectacular. Once again, this will be an album on high rotation for a long time. Unlike other Post Rock bands I've listened to, sleepmakeswaves is intense listening but they don't just incorporate the wall of sound. Their music is very melodic, as uplifting and full of hope and happiness as it can be dark. I'm unsure if I have ever come across anything quite like them.

The opening track Perfect Detonator is a high energy start to the album, with oodles of melody and power. So too, the second track Traced In Constellations, begins with a powerful feel, but moves into a dreamy and atmospheric, but still at times very heavy musical depiction of the album theme. I just love music that can speak like this with no words.

After the drone-like sounds of Singularity, we come to what for me is the centrepiece of the album. The breathtakingly beautiful and mind-blowing Emergent. This is the highlight of the album for me, the ultimate crescendo that combines the intensity of Post Rock with the cyclic and melodic nature of Prog. This is the track that sets the hair on the back of neck on end every time I listen to it. This is Post Rock's answer to Porcupine Tree's Anesthetize, and I would encourage any strictly Prog fan to step out of your comfort zone, crank this one up loud, and see whether or not you are convinced there is something to this style of music!

Next is the second standout track to me. Having heard the album with only one song so far officially released as a single, I couldn't help but wonder why Great Northern wasn't released as the single. If any track would make an instrumental radio friendly piece, it would be this one. It is superb! Starting out with soft piano tones with sentimental electronic sampling, it dives into an intense but perfectly restrained barrage of sound, followed by a delicate guitar melody to be thrown again into intense guitar scouring. This will be amazing live and I can't wait to see it! I was happy to hear the announcement this week that the track has been released as the album's second single!

The Stars Are Stigmata is high energy music to exercise to, if you so choose, and has a darker tone about it that many of the uplifting tracks which precede it don't, but once again, there is a fantastic melody that seems unique to sleepmakeswaves. I even detect a similarity to Tortoise in the middle of this track. I wonder if they were influenced by those legends when I saw them supporting Tortoise a couple of years back?

The most melancholic track of the album is A Little Spark. I've said it before but this one shows off the soundtrack talents of this foursome. It would be incredible to see an Australian film with these guys doing the soundtrack.

It always fascinates me how instrumental bands come up with the names for their songs. But thinking about How We Built The Ocean conjures images that so closely compliments the music it's eerie. There is a melodic hook in this one that will stay in your head for days.

Something Like Avalanches was the first tune released as a single off the album. I was initially concerned by the opening electronic sounds but I was soon assured that this was the same band and I was in for a treat. Once again, I drift off with this tune into all the snow and ski trips I have done and the sounds integrate with my thoughts perfectly.

Your Time Will Come Again  is the perfect closing track for the album. Starting off very slowly in typical Post Rock fashion, the middle crescendo is probably the most powerful on the album. It has some great guitar hooks in the centre that will please punks and proggers alike. Once again, the melody is beautiful, and the track takes us down slowly to the end of our trip so as not to get too dizzy while coming off the ride. The one question I have is, "Can I go again?"

For fans of sleepmakeswaves this will be a wonderful next stage for a band who has already done some amazing things. For new listeners, I can only recommend that if it is at all possible to stop listening to Love Of Cartography for a minute, check out the band's earlier material as well. You will not be disappointed.

Love Of Cartography is available now for pre-order at www.sleepmakeswaves.com and is released on 4th July 2014.

4.5 / 5

Reviewed by Dwayne Bunney


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