|The Big Sleep ↔ Nature Experiments (2012)|
The Big Sleep ↔ Nature Experiments
Location: Brooklyn, NYC
Album release: March 27, 2012
Record Label: Goodnight / Frenchkiss (April 30 in UK), Tangled Up!/One Little Indian
01. #1 (3:09)
02. Ace (4:27)
03. Valentine (4:03)
04. Ghosts In Bodies (4:03)
05. Wood On The Water (2:35)
06. Red Carpet (3:13)
07. Ladders (3:05)
08. Four Wishes (3:30)
09. Meet Your Maker (2:49)
10. 1001 (3:13)
11. Sugar (3:01)
12. Popcorn Soda Candy (3:02)
• Considering how quiet they ve been over the past couple years, you d think the Big Sleep decided to suddenly take their name seriously after the tireless tour cycle behind 2008 s Sleep Forever LP. The truth is much simpler... We took a little break, worked on stuff separately and just lived our lives, explains bassist/vocalist Sonya Balchandani. It obviously took longer than we thought it would, adds guitarist/vocalist Danny Barria, but I wasn t feeling rushed or pressured. I just wanted to write good songs. Which brings us to the hefty hooks and sugar–spun noise pop of Nature Experiments, the filler–free full–length Danny and Sonya have hinted at since 2000. That'd be the year the duo started cutting demos in the former's Brooklyn kitchen; demos that eventually shifted from a loose shoegaze sound (the You Today, Me Tomorrow EP) to the iridescent instrumentals and groove–locked guitar anthems of the Big Sleep's debut album, 2006's Son of the Tiger. As promising as that LP was, it's nowhere near as focused and forceful as the tractor beam tracks the pair started recording at the beginning of 2011. Helped in part by Sonya's increased use of GarageBand as a songwriting tool and a more collaborative creative process, Nature Experiments is as robust as a Big Sleep record gets, bursting at the seams with restless rhythms and choppy power chords ("Ace"), venomous vocals and blown-out beats ("Meet Your Maker"), and effects pedals/synth pads that rub and ring out against some of the band's most climatic choruses yet ("Valentine," "Ghosts In Bodies," "Ladders"). And if you need a breather, there's always the psych–steeped balladry of "1001" and "Wood on the Water." "There was definitely a tunnel vision thing going on with our last record," says Danny. "That pressure was cool and intense, but the guiding principle this time around was to take our time and do whatever we needed to. We d work on things separately and then meet in each other s living rooms with just an acoustic guitar and a keyboard, which is funny considering that s exactly how the band started. "This band's always been about what comes out of the two of us working together," adds Sonya. "I think it's normal to write a little past the edge of your capabilities, so then you have to deliver, and the next time around, you end up pushing yourself again. We are always just looking for and editing ourselves towards what feels right, what we can both agree is putting across a feeling in a style that's truly 'us'."
Review by Edward Clibbens / www.musicomh.com / 4/5
• "I just want to write good songs," was guitarist–vocalist Danny Barria’s wish for Nature Experiments, and on hearing the record it's clear that's precisely what he’s done. If their debut album Son Of The Tiger portrayed a band dropped somewhere between shoegaze and post–rock, and second album Sleep Forever was them discovering Black Sabbath, then Nature Experiments is The Big Sleep discovering pop.
• This emergence of greater pop sensibilities is a logical progression from Sleep Forever. The band aren't quite embracing pop in, say, the shameless way Kings Of Leon did when they released Only By The Night. Rather, this is an embrace of indie–rock melody that wasn't in their work before. Take third track Valentine, an instantly accessible slice of pop–rock in the vein of Blood Red Shoes, for instance. And Ladders could quite easily slot in to a daytime radio playlist, being the lightest track the band has written — this being far from a bad thing. Yet at no point do they lose touch with the rich atmosphere that tends to shroud their music, creating a presence of extra sonic intensity that sets them apart from bog standard guitar bands.
• Despite this new affection for melody and focus on writing more accessible tunes, they’ve by no means abandoned their heavier rock roots. Four Wishes is one of the best rock tracks to surface so far this year. Having more or less pinched the riff from Wake Up by Rage Against The Machine, they channel this through early Black Sabbath and psychedelic rock. The result is a near perfect rock song.
• The rest of the album is an amalgamation of the heavier psychedelic approach infused with accessible melodies. Lead single Ace is equal parts brooding feedback, intricate guitar lines and shimmering vocals, all capped off with a rich instrumental outro. It highlights the band’s influences. The rhythms present on tracks such as opener #1 call to mind early Yeah Yeah Yeahs, while swathes of the album bear a striking resemblance to the most recent outing by Blood Red Shoes; although this is surely due to shared inspiration rather than them being a direct stimulus. The biggest credit to the band is that none of the tracks could be said to be shameless recycles of said influences.
• Nature Experiments is an archetypal ‘grower’ album. With each listen one discovers that, despite the surface layer of accessibility, there’s great depth to the tracks. The Big Sleep have presented a collection of often excellent songs of real substance, making for an album that warrants, for the most part, unmitigated attention; preferably through some decent speakers. Nature Experiments is The Big Sleep crying out for attention. They deserve some.
All photos: Nathan Martin Author: Alina Landry Photo by Brooklyn Vegan Club
The Big Sleep — you dont get forearm veins like that without severe practice [photo Erin Cole]
Review by Ryan Barham, 01 May 2012 / http://thefourohfive.com
• Brooklyn noisemakers The Big Sleep release their third album — one that has already gained a heady steam of momentum in the States and has seen the band booked for some impressive shows in Europe. Despite their silent–sounding name, Danny Baria and Sonya Balchandani have specialised in crafting a hurling big sound throughout their career. Nature Experiments is released on French Kiss Records and after taking a break from relentless touring, sees them take a more collaborative approach to their songwriting. What effect will this have on this oh–so finely–honed sound? The conveniently–titled #1 formidably opens the album sounding a bit like Blur when they pretended to be Pavement. Punishing, intricate and complex guitar riffs help it explode into life as Danny shouts: "We've got to try and work it out!." A loud and brash start to the album which is followed by another fantastically–titled song in 'Ace'. This time Sonya takes the lead on vocals and the grungey dancefloor feel never gets lost amidst a quell of seductive vocals, hooks and noise. The song ends with a huge, perhaps unexpected celebratory feel. 'Valentine' is the first song on the album to delve into electronics and comes complete with a gothic 80s vibe, somewhere between Depeche Mode and The Cure, before the guitar comes in and it morphs into frenetic, distorted indie pop a la Cloud Nothings. With the interesting interplay between the echoing vocals, the brazen pop of this song would certainly fit with their recent tour buddies Fang Island!
• With a shoegaze influence evident throughout , the album also has echoes of The Joy Formidable or Hell Is For Heroes — especially on the more chest–pumping anthemic pieces like 'Ladders' and 'Meet Your Maker', the latter complemented with the vocals: "Come on kid, meet your maker" and "Go on, back where you belong." Much of the album sits tantalisingly between delicate melodies and cruching noise, and the band use many synth pads and effects to help create their distinctive sound. A particularly synth–heavy number is 'Red Carpet', at least in its intro before guitars come in and and turn it into a damn fine piece of noisy pop. It is a song that will get people dancing — even if it's just an awkward shuffle. In contrast to this is the opening of 'Four Wishes', which sounds like Jimmy Page has wrestled a guitar off Danny and joined the band for half a song. After this classic, crunching start the song starts to take a slower turn and the band truly excel when they rein themselves in. The closer of the album, '1001', is a delicate and haunting piece that's build–up threatens to turn into a beast of a post–rock song, but never quite does – and is all the better for it. Genuinely captivating until the final, calming note, it is a great and unexpected way to finish what is a dynamic record.
• There may be more vocals on this album than previous releases, but the band still rely heavily on a healthy dose of experimental instrumentation and arrangements. On the whole, you'd say these 'Nature Experiments' are a success, and despite being called The Big Sleep, all signs are pointing towards this lot waking up to a whole new level of success. Rating: 7.5/10
Photo by Jeff P. Elstone II.
Author: Brandon Bogajewicz
Author: Brandon Bogajewicz
|The Big Sleep ↔ Nature Experiments (2012)|