sleepmakeswaves
these are not your dreams


3.6
great

Review

by Jom STAFF
July 17th, 2020 | 23 replies


Release Date: 07/17/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Whatever time we thought we had left is now gone.

these are not your dreams is the unifying banner under which Australian post-rockers and capital letters eschwers sleepmakeswaves have slow-dripped 3 EPs: No Safe Place, Out of Hours, and Not an Exit. The gradual release of these EPs was a conscious decision by the trio to highlight their mindset during each phase, although COVID-19 understandably led to delays in recording, producing, mixing, and release dates (especially as members were on the shelf for mandatory quarantine stints). To work in the visual and performing arts (either as an artist or part of ancillary staff) during a global pandemic is overwhelmingly stressful, but 2020 has also been a year that illustrates artists' perseverance and ingenuity during a time when terms like "social distancing" have entered our vernacular and touring has come to a screeching halt. these are not your dreams arrives without any creative compromises, and it signals a lot of "firsts" for sleepmakeswaves as well: the collection is the first to be self-produced, -mixed, and -recorded by the band and the first release to have songs featuring predominant vocals. The band are quick to acknowledge some of the quintessential criticisms of the genre ("Every song has been an experiment in how far we can push ourselves creatively and sonically... because what else is there... why do people need more? We've set ourselves the challenge of answering that question every day we've worked on our material. And we wanted to work harder than ever to justify it in an age of limitless novelty"), so is dreams a trailblazing effort, a more-of-the-same, paint-by-numbers composite, or an experiment that will be swiftly forgotten, like when you were interested in geocaching for all of two weeks?

As always, context is important, but the short answer is that tracks like "the endings that we write", "cascades", "pyramids", and "zelda" are some of the band's finest songs to date, Out of Hours is the strongest of the three components, and it's likely for the best that you act as if each EP is its own time capsule instead of treating dreams as a flowing LP with a coherent tracklist from start-to-finish.

No Safe Place ("the blue EP") begins with a track that is simply post-rock done right: opener "the endings that we write" contains gorgeous ambiance and spectacular volume swells throughout its runtime. "endings" is also a bit of a tease in that it's the longest track in the compilation, but the song is sublime in its dissonance during its back half, with Tim Adderly's thunderous snare, Alex Wilson's bulky bass, and a healthy fusion of delay-laden and distorted guitars. The frenetic pace continues with "batavia", which amplifies the psychedelic leanings teased in the preceding track. "batavia" also sports sludgier guitars a la Russian Circles or Pelican that will sound absolutely stunning when they're unleashed live and a twinkly, Midwestern emo-tinged outro that allows for a brief respite after the bombast. No Safe Place closes with the ethereal "cascades", the first song in the collection to feature Otto Wicks-Green's falsetto. True to its name, "cascades" swirls and flows before it finally teeters off a precipice like a waterfall in its crescendo, with lyrics that tie back to the compilation's opening motif: "You and me, what's left of the endings that we write? / They became the oceans and the sky" croons Wicks-Green in the track's most climactic moments. The blue EP is an auspicious start to the collection, not dissimilar to a lead-off batter getting on base for the third or cleanup hitters to drive home (I leave it up to your personal geography or allegiance if this means No Safe Place is Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Ichiro, etc.).

As aforementioned, Out of Hours ("the pink EP") is arguably the strongest of the 3 EPs, with the 1-2 punch of "pyramids" and "zelda" leading the charge. Sonically, Hours has some '90s post-hardcore underpinnings, which is an undeniable delight. Out of Hours has a similar structure to No Safe Place in that its first half is the most memorable, with "pyramids"' space rock aesthetic signaling a change in demeanor. Chunky, viscous riffs in the song's first two-thirds give way to a feverishly-paced final third, and the electronics infused in the song's more atmospheric and assuaging stanzas add greater depth to the song's dynamics. While "pyramids" was initially demoed for Made of Breath Only, these are not your dreams is a much better landing spot for "pyramids" given Breath's polar, icier constitution. Meanwhile, "zelda" is one of sleepmakeswaves' best songs in their discography. While Wicks-Green's vocals emboss "zelda", they augment the song with palpable spirit and vigor ("So much left to say / It's all so soon / But I would have saved it all for you . . . / I'll find all the words after you're gone"); "zelda" isn't a standout or 'score points' because the reappearance of vocals are a novelty. While "zelda" would still be a strong recording without them, it'd feel lacking in its holistic composition without the vocals, as the track gives listeners an opportunity to visualize their place in the lyrics and derive meaning from its storytelling. In contrast, "menthol" has more of a recycled B-side feel, although its electronic flourishes are memorable, but "embraced" ensures the pink EP ends on a satisfying note. There's no long build-up to a crescendo; instead, the chugging riffs and pulsating electronics, interspersed with some ambient passages, dominate the last three-quarters to appreciable success.

Not an Exit ("the green EP") is perhaps the most 'unmemorable' of the 3 EPs, but I should preface this with some disclaimers. First, the pandemic caused delays with the pink EP's mastering, which led to both the pink and green EPs being delayed, which meant no time to write new material. Second, some of the band were obligated to quarantine themselves for the requisite 14 days, and the stringent social distancing measures in New South Wales meant no opportunity to rehearse together. Consequently, the green EP was created completely remotely, which means the electronics, rather than a large drum kit, took precedence in the rhythm section. "mind palace"'s name does little to belie expectations: it is pensive, soothing, and allows time for contemplation (and might serve as a welcome calming segue when listening to the compilation in one fell swoop after the heavier pink EP). The effect-laden guitars of "serenity now" and modulated vocals in "lofi nylon" are resplendent and emanate a poppier vibe, and the compilation's title track imbues electronics a la 65daysofstatic and serves as a reassuring epilogue. As such, Not an Exit should be cheered for being an opportunity for sleepmakeswaves to stretch their creative muscles in terms of technology and composition, and the halcyon end result provides plenty of room to be introspective, reflect, and be mindful of the present moment.

The these are not your dreams project is forever a snapshot in time when life feels like it's been perpetually trending towards the bizarre, and constructs like the 24-hour news cycle serve to aggravate our collective anxiety further. While the blue, pink, and green EPs all represent different portraits of the band's psyche at the times they were written and recorded -- and the intention might not have been to listen to the compilation from front-to-back given how in flux their disparate energies are -- but the experience does not suffer if that's your listening preference. these are not your dreams features some of the trio's most impressive songwriting to date (specifically 'the first halves' of the blue and pink EPs, especially "the endings that we write" and "zelda"), and I'll always associate this release, even with its unremarkable songs, with persistence and moxie. "Social distancing" doesn't mean "social isolation", so call your folks, get your friends together for Jackbox Games on Meet or Zoom, wear a mask when out-and-about, and please be safe -- not just for your own good, but for the good of your community.





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user ratings (15)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
ChoccyPhilly
July 18th 2020


12619 Comments


Ahh yes, the bi-yearly emergence of Jom from his med cave

Digging: Oliver Tree - Ugly Is Beautiful

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 18th 2020


43923 Comments


new south wales represent. my brother was telling me about this just today, cool stuff

Digging: Mike Shinoda - Dropped Frames, Vol. 1

dedex
July 18th 2020


4000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

oyo I didn't even know about these EPs



already two 2020 revs Jom, what's happening?

Digging: The Replacements - Let It Be

TheWatchman71
July 18th 2020


120 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. I’ve held off listening to them till all 3 EPs were out. The band certainly features in the higher echelons of my post rock bands and they’ve managed to make each album have its own distinct sound. Notwithstanding that this isn’t really an album per se, still looking forward to hearing where they’ve taken their sound this time. Review suggests that this will be as different to the previous, as that was to the preceding ones.

Digging: Slowdive - Slowdive

wildinferno2010
July 18th 2020


771 Comments


Absolute beast of a review. I considered these guys my favourite postrock band for a time. Gotta give this a good listen soon


Pho3nix
July 18th 2020


890 Comments


I just recently gave ' In Today Already Walks Tomorrow' a listen, still slays.

Digging: Alice in Chains - Alice in Chains

TheWatchman71
July 18th 2020


120 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As each EP progresses they move another step further away from their comfort zone, which is kind of what they stated up front - but by the time you get to Not an Exit, then you know they were true to their word. No Safe Place was more immediate and the The Endings That We Write was a perfect start to proceedings and had everything that you’d want from smw. And over the next 11 tracks they cover a lot of ground, with glimpses of all their musical styles before moving into new territory. Probably unfair to rate it as a unified whole, with each EP having its own personality and doesn’t seem like this was meant to be an album? For first listen I really enjoyed it, the familiar and the unfamiliar.

TheWatchman71
July 19th 2020


120 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

“I just recently gave ' In Today Already Walks Tomorrow' a listen, still slays.”



Agreed. That and the eponymous one, which strangely shares some of the same tracks are both great. I’ve come to appreciate all of their albums. The shift in sound might take a while to adjust as it did for me with Made of Breath Only.



Looking forward to spending more time with these new EPs.





Prancer
July 19th 2020


1118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

been waiting for the entire trilogy to listen to these. amazing stuff

TheWatchman71
July 19th 2020


120 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Have had the EPs on repeat all day. Love the unified approach to them in respect of the artwork and colours and each having its own inscription. Just gives it that extra layer when the art and music all converge.

No Safe Place = 4.5

Out of Hours = 3.5

Not an Exit = 4.0

No safe place could well be my favourite 27 minutes of smw. Just so much is covered in that time from the epic The Endings That We Write (which has a real Cartography vibe), to the heavier Batavia, and then then mellower final two which both erupt towards the end with amazing guitar solos as well as introducing a more frequent use of electronica.

Out of Hours is ultimately let down by having the two weakest tracks of all the EPs. So even though Pyramids is great, and Zelda bringing in the first full vocal track, you can’t escape the disappointment of the second half. Menthol is the weakest, and Embraced doesn’t really do anything spectacular or memorable.

Not an Exit took a while, and I had to get over myself and my own expectations - but once I had done then these songs really opened up. The vocals, the electronic beats and effects, mixed in with their established sound - just came together so well. I sense that this EP will only get better.

A few albums just came to mind as I was sat with the headphones on - Duplex by Apparat, The People Are Trying To Sleep by Kelpe, Give Up by The Postal Service and And The Glass Handed Kites by Mew. Each in their own way, providing a reference point to the style of the electronic and vocal tracks.

And this album, more than any other of theirs, really does shine with headphones. There are so many layers of guitars and effects, and at times the bass really does shine.

If this was a 10 track album minus Menthol and Embraced, right now I’d be tempted to give a 5.0.



They have really outdone themselves here, and all the risk taking has truly paid off.

TheWatchman71
July 19th 2020


120 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Along with Jakob and Caspian - I think sleepmakeswaves are one of the most consistent and consistently brilliant bands in post rock.

wildinferno2010
July 20th 2020


771 Comments


I thought that too until Made of Breath Only came out, that one's a bit boring imo. But otherwise, yeah. Brilliant band.
I really need to make some time to listen to these EP's.

y87arrow
July 20th 2020


549 Comments


Thanks to this review which popped up I discovered my first album of them, Love Of Cartography, and it's absolutely breathtaking. The certain imaginary places that album takes me to, it's wonderful. Really thankful for that. Haven't listened to this new one by the way.

Digging: sleepmakeswaves - Love of Cartography

Project
July 21st 2020


4305 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Loving this so far. Zelda is absolutely fantastic. I might owe these guys a discog dive



edit: yeah this is solid, gonna give it a 3.5 but it might be a 4. some really pretty stuff in the last EP and I love the more energetic stuff in the first half. I'm sure there's an alternate tracklisting that makes this a smooth LP

minty901
July 22nd 2020


3935 Comments


The vocals are pretty weak, not gonna lie.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
July 22nd 2020


3204 Comments


Band That Doesn't Ordinarily Incorporate Vocals Gives It a Go, Labeled "Pretty Weak"; more at 11

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 23rd 2020


35183 Comments


if this has vocals I might actually like it

Digging: Dominic Fike - What Could Possibly Go Wrong

Beardog
July 23rd 2020


3661 Comments


Wait this has vocals? They have some really nice songs so always hyped to check this

Mort.
July 23rd 2020


15041 Comments


'Band That Doesn't Ordinarily Incorporate Vocals Gives It a Go, Labeled "Pretty Weak"; more at 11'

lol

Digging: Departures - Death Touches Us, From The Moment We Begin To Love

Project
July 23rd 2020


4305 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it has vocals on like three tracks and they are ... fine



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