Little Brite is the debut mini LP / EP from Denton, Texas duo Sleep Whale who are made up of guitarist / cellist Joel North and violinist / programmer Bruce Blay. The music is largely acoustic, given an electronic edge that adds colour without ever being obtrusive. This is summery music, sometimes steeped in sadness, sometimes whimsical and sometimes as bright and fresh as a cooling dip in a mountain stream. Think a more natural, less self-consciously intellectual counterpart to Books for a quick reference.
There are six tracks which, on the vinyl version, break into two distinctive suites. “Skipping Stones” provides an slightly childlike opening with tingling guitars playing over soft violin and a percussion built out of samples of water. It sounds like the perfect soundtrack to Trumpton or Camberwick Green (references that will mean something only to Brits of a certain age). It segues seamlessly into the plucked acoustics of “A Pebble Garden” and the bright, complex guitar melodies and hand drums of “Josh Likes Me” which clatters to a dissonant, shambolic end.
The mood of the second half is more downbeat, and the instrumentation more complex. Manipulated string drones and mournful guitar give “Airplane Arms” a darker feel, with the track bookended with helicopterish rotary drums loops. The album ends with its only vocal track. The soft, airy harmonies of “Little Brite” give it a suitably sleepy and bucolic feel.
This is a lovely release. It’s mellow without ever lapsing into blandness, whimsical without ever being twee. Chilled out music that also pays close attention and which is complex without ever being showy, or losing sight of its essential melodic simplicity. The album is issued by Western Vinyl on July 14th.
1 Skipping Stones 4:30
2 A Pebble Garden 3:28
3 Josh Likes Me 5:04
4 Sleep Whale 4:44
5 Airplane Arms 3:52
6 Little Brite 4:31