Review: Lärmshutz - Sleepcycles

a2165654327_16Lie down. Close your eyes. Open them again. Seven or eight hours have passed. You might awake with the traces of a dream draining from your mind – flashes of forgotten faces and strange melds of memory – yet sleep is ultimately a period of absent self; a blank interlude between undulating passages of consciousness. From a biological standpoint it’s actually a time of intense activity (memory consolidation, hormone excretion etc), and by using sleep measurements taken by Lärmshutz’s two members as a graphical score, Sleepcycles work to amplify the expressive fluctuations that are inherent within such a seemingly static act.

Two tracks, two different nights of sleep: one marked by the brevity of its sleep cycles, the other characterised by the frequent appearance of nightmares. The first opens with a descent from consciousness to unconsciousness. Guitar feedback and drums mimic all the sharp edges and noises of sensory awareness, pressing forcefully against the ceiling of consciousness with sounds of vigour and insistence, before softening into pants of double bass and delicate rustling hi-hats. Darkness thickens as the performers mellow out, tracing the line of the graph down toward slower pulse rates and more gentle mental activity. The guitar starts to twang in intermittent minor keys, as the bass purrs like an old car motor running flat. Gradually cymbals and strums drag the music upward again – skipping along on the edge of krautrock as it holds a rolling, asymmetric groove – and then back down, riding the curve into troughs of REM and sleep-assisted biological recovery, amplifying the undulating song of bodily restoration that otherwise passes unperceived.

As well as mirroring the dynamic flow of sleep, many of the musical decisions on Sleepcycles feel like the output of the more erratic, suggestible dream-states. For instance, a trombone casually enters the frame like a marching band member sleepwalking off course, perpetuating his song in a mixture of embarrassment and bewilderment as he shuffles his way through the amplifier feedback. The guitar cuts in between crunchy tones and the hiss of metallic gain, saturating notes in distortion and fumbling through guitar solos like a drowsy, cack-handed thrash parody. The group feel thoroughly uninhibited, following eachother into lulls of rumbling noise and sudden fountains of excitement, released from a conscious mind that might have vetoed some of the more erratic and unruly turns of pace. It’s restless and raw set of music; an exhibition of the loose thoughts and restless processes that all flow beneath the façade of physical stillness.