Review: Jabu – Sleep Heavy

Sleep Heavy sounds like singing into a fire. Serenading the flicker of distorted keyboards as they swell and recede. Bedecked with the crackle of burning logs (or, as we tilt in and out of this analogy, the cobbled journey of the needle around the vinyl groove). The voices are caught between the drama of romantic confession and the hush of private heartbreak. And thus, these words are released to the fire – hissing as they descend into the flame, snaking upward again as smoke – and while there is a gentle catharsis to allowing these soulful, half-wept melodies to spill out the mind via the mouth, Sleep Heavy still bears the burden of being the only one to know.

These are beautiful songs, and they possess the faint outline of pop. Repetitious samples strive to become catchy hooks, yet come out as recurrent haunts instead: surges of harmony exhumed from old vinyl and cassette, bending as Jabu drag them out of time and space, echoing through the emptiness of alienation and misplacement. And those voices are tenderly virtuosic, the lyrics tracing out heartfelt pleas and disparities in romantic understanding, the melodies wandering through a deep vibrato, emerging transiently like words written into condensation on a window pane. Many of these tracks wither before they truly become: the damaged tape loop of “Searc” is already dying as it fades in, bleeding distortion from both sides, slipping into silence after a mere minute. Yet even the album’s longer songs feel like temporary visitors, carried by muffled drum machines on their tip toes, delivered in whispers that emerge and then effortlessly disappear. Engulfed by the flame.