Supposedly this is Resonant’s last release. I don’t whether that has had an effect on the distribution, but Our Sleepless Forest’s debut album has proved a difficult creature to track down. I had to resort to Amazon after getting no joy out of Glasgow’s local emporia. This is actually a real shame for an up and coming band who deserve to be heard. The record was originally scheduled for February release, so it’s been a bit of a balls-up really.
One break the band did get was the Wire electing to include lead track “Nomads” on the most recent Wiretapper compilation. It’s an extremely impressive beast – a cacophony of forest noise over a lilting skank, and has a gorgeous melody line. “The Tinderbox” is even more busy, with a Babel babble of voices and sounds almost drowning out a simple melodic figure. It uses the same sampledelic approach that the Avalanches used to such gleeful effect a few years back, but with a very different end product. Things quieten down a little for “Doors In Limbo”, a melange of sampled voices and sustained, string-driven drones. It’s very much like a miniature version of Gavin Bryars’ “The Sinking of the Titanic”, and has the same air of loss about it. The first two minutes of “White Bird” tick over slowly before it bursts into technicolour, Ulrich Schnauss-style.
The second half is a little more of a mixed bag. “Aircastles” is a bit formless, but “Afraid Of You” is superb. It starts with a gorgeous baroque melody that sounds like it’s constructed out of fragments of backwards guitar, builds into sheets of sound and then ends much as it began. “The Clarion” is impressively dark, with a funereal snare beat leading the way, before the track heads into Mogwai territory with layer upon layer of processed guitar noise. The album ends with “Haze”, which is similar to the central section of “Nomads”, only with even more echo. It sounds a bit like a Slowdive out-take – a little too generically shoe-gazey – and like it’s leading up to some epic climax which never materialises. It’s a slightly flat way to end proceedings, but doesn’t deflect from the fact that Our Sleepless Forest is a very fine record indeed.
Much has been made of the youth of Josh Rothberger, Karl Jawara and Sam Purcell, the trio who make up Our Sleepless Forest. It’s a little patronising, as if they’re expected to be McFly or My Chemical Romance fans and have no business making thoughtful, original music. Who gives a shit how old they are? What’s more important is that they put the fact that they have been unfortunate enough to sign to a label in its death throes behind them, and not get discouraged. They’ve made a blistering start.
1 Nomads 6:48
2 The Tinderbox 6:13
3 Doors In Limbo 4:43
4 White Bird 5:02
5 Aircastles 5:22
6 Afraid Of You 5:30
7 The Clarion 6:00
8 Haze 3:48