Review Summary: One last chance to hide upstairs, to watch gentle lights from the window.
As Aereogramme vocalist, Craig B. said of the band’s 2003 endeavor, Sleep and Release: “I'm incredibly proud of it but I'm not surprised we didn't bother the charts. It's not an easy listen.” Sleep and Release is an extremely dynamic album that covers a huge variety of moods. To truly understand the album’s intricacies demands the listener’s full attention. Sleep and Release is the second full release from Glasgow’s alternative/ post rock band, consisting of Craig B. (vocals, guitar), Iain Cook (guitar, programming), Campbell McNeil (bass) and Martin Scott (drums).
After the initial outburst of strings, guitar, drums, and percussion on The Black Path, the song melts away into Craig’s soft, venerable-sounding vocals, accompanied by only a single cello. It’s like watching fireworks and waiting to feel the sound of the explosion in your chest, never quite being able to anticipate it. Even at its most simple, Sleep and Release never quite lets go of the immense amount of tension that these moments create. The listener is never allowed to sit comfortably. You know something is going to happen, but you can’t quite predict when.
Aereogramme make it extremely difficult to know what to expect. The album’s songs include a huge spectrum of different elements, including: noisy alt-rock, seas of heavy, metal-tinged guitar, pounding drum work, emotional piano and string arrangements, electronic noises, and ambient post rock. Sometimes all incorporated into the same song. Though at times lighter and infused with simple pop hooks, there’s a certain denseness that these songs never escape from.
Following The Black Path is A Simple Process of Elimination. It’s a slower, more ambient and somber sounding track and is one of the handful of songs on the album that stay in the more restrained, post rock territory. The song has an interesting drone to it with its pounding drums and glitchy sounding electronic noises. Midway through the song the string swells return. Simple Process, like all the other songs on the album, is just so multilayered and dense. This aspect of the album is one of the things that really does make Sleep and Release such a difficult listen, but also makes it so rewarding.
Wood is arguably the heaviest song the band has written. It starts with just a mid tempo alt rock sound before a chugging, ominous sounding guitar line begins. The song leads into a surprisingly aggressive explosion of heavy guitars, violent strings and Craig’s screamed vocals, and then simmers back to the calmer sound of the beginning of the song. Quite a few of the songs on the album follow the same trend, if you can say they follow a trend at all. They often include both soft and heavy, or both ambient and upfront. However, it’s never quite confusing or unnerving. It never feels schizophrenic or unfocused due to how well designed each transition is.
With Sleep and Release, Aereogramme have made a great album that covers a wide spectrum of moods and emotions. At times loud and angry and at times soft and delicate, each different part of the album is constructed so well that it’s hard not to come away pleased.