Introducing: Sleepmakeswaves

Bearded's very own Clementine Lloyd reports from the other side of the world to let us know all about Australia's best kept secrets...

Posted on Jul 26th, 2011 in Features and Interviews, Sleepmakeswaves / By Clementine Lloyd
Sleepmakeswaves Bearded Magazine is on a mission to widen your horizons, bringing to you a feast of music from across the waves. Allow us, then, to introduce the first of many Australian gems in the form of Sleepmakeswaves. Musically gifted, and eloquent to boot, Alex Otto, Kid and Will form the instrumental quartet. Hailing from Sydney, these affable young gentlemen are currently touring Australia’s major cities promoting new record And So We Destroyed Everything. It is a shining diamond, encompassing a range of deep and dark cavernous spaces and soaring highs that will leave you more than a little breathless.

Don’t be fooled by the term instrumental either, they aren’t limiting themselves to this movement. With the use of a side stage laptop, skilfully hewn synthetic arcs are interwoven by Alex, coagulating with more naturalistic and explosive rhythmic guitars, drum beats and bass elements. The introduction of vocals, a relatively new explorative move, is as much a tonal device as electronics and instruments.

“[The lyrics] sneak in. The band did the instrumental thing for a while and at this point it’s starting to feel like a bit of an arbitrary distinction. It’s no longer something that sets us apart”. Speaking as ‘the voice’ momentarily gracing a handful of tracks, guitarist Otto muses over the pros and cons of using lyrics as a method of meaning;

“I’ve only ever written three or four decent sets of lyrics in my life, they’re usually pretty bad. It’s usually me just complaining about my ex girlfriend. I’ve had to tighten up and be a little bit more enigmatic. I think part of the appeal of instrumental music is people can take their own meaning from it, I wanted to try and get that across with the lyrics.”

Showcasing this in tonight’s gig at the Brunswick East Club, the microphone stands unused for large portions of the evening. So when Otto stands up to it, belting out a vocal cry, the effect is arresting. Alex calls to his mind an influential current artist. “Julianna Barwick... makes this really weird music where she sings wordlessly into a looping pedal, building these choral soundscapes. It’s this lyric-less use of the human voice. [In the same way] we want to have some lyrics we can stand behind, but don’t want to make the lyrics a centrepiece, they’re something you can check out along the way, like nice scenery.”

The sense of unity amongst the four is fresh and unstudied. As with the music itself, there is a deep understanding of what they want to convey, knowledge of the discipline that is involved, and a love of what comes out of that.

Will explains “We play to a laptop, so we have to keep to that metronome. There’s not too much room for altering things. You might change a beat or a riff or a rhythm here or there.” A strict pattern yes, but they aren’t into controlling every aspect,

Kid continues “We won’t keep it regimented, every show is different, we are not playing bang on the same notes every show... there’s bits of playing and sounding clinical, which sometimes works, but you can’t have it to clinical all the time, or have it too freeform with our music either.”

Traversing the boundaries between control and lack thereof, recurring themes are representative of the struggle that can sometimes take place, though not exclusively. “On a broad level there are certainly themes that occur when you zoom out a bit, maybe loss compared to something brighter happier or more optimistic. The songwriters in the band, which are predominantly Alex, Kid and I, we write from different places and usually out of personal experience. I’ll write out of my own history”. Tapping into the complexities of synthetic sound versus the more naturalistic elements, there is also a sense of this thematically within their new record. “That’s definitely one of the themes we were going for. It’s the idea behind the artificial/synthetic compared to the natural/organic. We tried to reflect that even in the design of the album cover which has this natural image that is tessellated inside.” Alex speaks volumes with his outline of their collective nature, “we’re all pretty romantic heart on the sleeve dudes, yet we’re in this world where we are using laptops and we express our music on space-age technology, electric guitars and amplifiers. It seems the best way to express the situation of being in this very technological society and feeling emotion that is outside. It is that dichotomy in the music between the romantic elements and the really structured rigid stuff.”

The lengthier of the 8 tracks on the album ‘A Gaze Blank And Pitiless As The Sun’, coming in at just over 11 minutes, beautifully hones in on this sense, tripping the borders of light passages and brittle blockades, all carved out with tremendous sense of urgency. Easily a Bearded favourite, taking it all in at once is an epic experience. Asking the group if they have influences external from the realms of music, Alex discusses this track. “[The title] is from a poem by William Butler Yates, ‘The Second Coming’. He was writing about the precarious state of the world and he was worried about it. When I was writing that song with the guys it was a really dark negative song, a lot of the frustration about the direction we were going went into that, leaving clues in the song title.” Darkness may creep in, but these guys are essentially creating some real enlightening music, Alex adds “we are serious some of the time, a lot of the time we’re just geeks”

That being said, the power-play between darkness and light fuels the energy whilst on stage. Kid throws himself into this emotional realm. “I think when you harness that deeper side of the song that is specific to you it’s almost like this extra power up”, we pause to allow a multitude of gaming based jokes before Otto laughs “Ah man, don’t write that!” Sorry Otto.

Bearded will of course keep you informed of any news and UK dates. In the meantime, get them in your ears.