For the beginning of their new album Sleepcycles, Lärmshutz place themselves in the middle of nowhere. Indistinct noise clashes for the opening phrases of “Deep Sleep” eventually descending into a spacey abyss. From here on, more concrete motives drive the duo through a series of ups and downs with encapsulating groove states capturing audiences for each of the two 20 minute pieces.
According to the liner notes of the album, Sleepcycles is guided by a graph representing the ups and downs of sleep cycles of two of the members of the group as determined by an iphone application. Although the pieces are improvised, it is clear that certain efforts were made to make clear changes in mood to speak out, thus representing the different aspects sleep. The clashing beginning followed by quick descent in the beginning of the album serves as a representation of the act of falling asleep as one is in the constant fluctuating state of consciousness before relaxing to the point of sleeping. Another representative aesthetic choice comes into play with the use of a gently rocking 6/8 time signature. This part of the piece is particularly hypnotic as the slow groove makes time slip away quite quickly, representing a deep portion of sleeping. Eventually this is broken by a particularly horrifying re-iteration of the noisy opening idea, evoking a comparison to the mood of a nightmare.
Sleep may not seem to be the most interesting source for musical inspiration, however, it is not always something that comes easily so perhaps droning-improvised music is the perfect setting to contextualize the concept. Drone music may have particularly repetitive sections lasting for long periods of time, however, there is room in the idiom for interruptions. The space left in between may serve as a perfect metaphor for those sleepless hours spent in darkness, whereas more scorched-earth moments of distorted chaos represent the evils of nightmare-ridden nights.
Admittedly, the aesthetic of the piece requires a bit of getting use to, but there is certainly enough musical depth to spark my interest. It is always nice to hear improvised music in a non-jazz influenced setting and the well thought out nature of the concept of the work adds another element to ponder. I look forward to more dedicated listening.