Sea Oleena - Sleeplessness
Track titles as well as the cover artwork of a release can be a good starting point when it comes to write about it. Of course these can be misleading, offer a fat juicy red herring to the unsuspecting and maybe even lazy writer -- and who would hold it against them, because with all these releases around, so little precious time available, not to mention the ever mounting pressure of "being productive" -- are thankful for every bit of tiny straw, because it looks like a life line to hold on to.
Sleeplessness is a rather intricate word, because its meaning suggests itself to be accessible readily. A glance over to Wikipedia though, reveals the complex indications that can come with this. And these are reflected in the release. With -- again -- seven tracks in total it can be divided into two parts, which are separated by an untitled track in the middle. First one style, then some kind of interlude and then the other part. A dualism, a representation of the division of the brain, of the depths of sleep -- REM-sleep or non-REM sleep -- or maybe something else. The longing for sleep or the moment of day-dreaming or of a wandering mind in terms of the first part. While the other one appears to be more distant and vague; maybe wanderings in the dream world. A lot of guesswork.
In some respect Sea Oleena continues in a way that is similar to the preceding eponymous release. There are facets from the pop genre, hints of rock and electronic/idm elements. While on this release the music differs according to what had been laid out before. First upbeat and still energetic, with nice melodies, a clear voice and a lot of nice layers and facets, which are really sweet and charming. One might even go so far as to speculate, whether in "Sleepless Fever" the thudding of the drum represents the beating of the heart after a bit too much and too late red wine in the evening; judging from hearsay this can happen; hearsay and nothing more; definitely hearsay.
With the uttering of the words "Insomnia Plague" and these would be the last one of the track as well, a break appears. The music shifts. First the sound of wood instruments, similar to what is commonly associated with the leaving of one "world" and with entering another one; the spirit world for instance. Accompanying it is the sound of water, but not a gurgling sound but rather flowing along gently and calmly, but not close by, rather like the vague murmuring. This transition feels nice, even if it is a bit sudden. Of course there has to be music, of course there has to be a voice, of course there has to be a melody, of course all of this has to appear, but the difference is rather stark compared with the first three tracks. It follows musically in this kind of way. The succeeding "Sister" feels distant and has a rather odd atmosphere due to the sound of some of the vocals. "Milk" is bit more intense, especially due to the rhythmic elements that oddly enough sound as if these would mimic the ones discussed above in "Sleepless Fever".
Orion's Eyes touches on a rather complex issue. At some point he had lost his sight, but gained it back later; to put it very simple. Is this in some respect a metaphor for what sleep is all about? One looses the sight, lingers around in darkness, wanders around in a dream world, only to wake up and to gain the sight again later on; this would generally happen in the morning. Is this not the way it tends to go? What about the music, though? Following what had been written above, it is of no surprise to experience a rather dreamlike music. To flow in a realm filled with ethereal sounds and to live through an overall calm atmosphere. It feels like a form of ambient with guitars and layers of vocals. Judging from the sound, the process of waking up is rather gentle or in the process of happening due to the way the music fades out into the distance.
Sleeplessness feels like an assemblage of ideas, a juxtaposition of oddities thrown together even though they clearly do not want to be next to each other. Wrapped in a layer of supposed conceptuality they try to appear as something coherent, but it all never feels like it. Partly flowing, partly stumbling and the listener trudging along with it. Music as this is perfect for vinyl, because one can listen to the preferred side, while neglecting the other one. Where to put the fourth track though? Maybe on either side? Well, each part has its fascination and is quite charming, but it is difficult to experience it together. "Sleeplessness" is a bit of a mixed bag.
But maybe the word sleeplessness can be understood in an entirely different fashion. By turning the meaning around, one scratches on the surface of an imperative that a lot of people like to adhere to: be productive. Somehow it is an aberration of the Latin proverb "ego cogito, ergo sum", "laboro, ergo sum" -- I work, therefore I am. Maybe work is too narrow, but in our times it is something still accepted as a valid excuse from attending events or from keeping appointments. Less accepted is the drifting of the mind, like laziness or idleness. One might imagine though that this is the main topic of this release. The unwillingness to give into to sleep and to reach another better level of mental as well as physical freshness again. The lyrics indicate such a thing: a drifting of the mind. One might even argue how the flow and progression of the music does not indicate that a form of sleep is actually or maybe even wants to be reached , but rather that the listener is witnessing a kind of intense form of daydreaming or even hallucination.
Not all is lost though. "Sleeplessness" marks a transition between the debut release and the music on the succeeding release "Shallow". This continuity can be discovered or is being commented on the first track of said output.
But more on that in the other review.
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