Sleeping Me is actually one bloke with a guitar and a battery of effects pedals. Californian Clayton McEvoy creates a sound on Cradlesongs that is fairly homogenous in mood and tempo, but turns this into a virtue. The solo ambient guitar field is a fairly crowded one. It’s probably because it’s easy to plug in and go, and it doesn’t take an enormous amount of talent to turn a few aimless pluckings into something that sounds moody and of great import simply by swathing them in effects. By the same token, it’s difficult to do this kind of thing in a way that’s distinctive and genuinely inventive.
The two ways most people go about it is either producing echo-laden arpeggios or moody drones. Both techniques are part of McEvoy’s armoury, but there’s a lot more beneath the bonnet than that. Not everything on Cradlesongs stands out. The title track sounds like the quiet bits of an Explosions in the Sky song without the promise of the loud bits. One or two other pieces don’t stick around in the memory for too long. At its best, though, it has an elegance and poignancy that is really beautiful. “Egdon Heath” has a dark ambience about it that exudes a sense of foreboding, whilst “Legs Like Gravestone” goes for the Slowdive ‘sonic cathedrals’ approach, albeit in a restrained and polite manner.
Two tracks stand out above all the others. “First Cell, First Love” has a relentless tick-tocking guitar figure that gives it a sense of its own brief mortality. It reminds me of Global Communication’s mighty “14:31” – it has the same clock motif that lends the piece a deep sadness that borders on the morbid. It is beautiful in its simplicity even if it’s relentlessly sombre. Final track “The Rattle In Our Throats” has a sweeping, melancholic grandeur which never threatens to turn into bombast, but is almost enough to induce tears.
I love the time around the summer solstice. At this latitude we don’t get the midnight sun, but even at 1 am, the northern sky is streaked with blue. It feels like we’re never truly abandoned to the night. I played Cradlesongs for the first time at such an hour a couple of nights ago, and it fit the mood of the moment perfectly.
1 Empty Cradles 4:44
2 First Cell, First Love 5:50
3 Tired Hearts 5:34
4 Legs Like Gravestone 5:28
5 Egdon Heath 3:18
6 Pride and Fall 3:31
7 Here in the North 3:31
8 Invasive Gravel Road 4:24
9 Cradlesong 3:40
10 The Rattle In Our Throats 7:59