songs to sleep on
8 December 2013 (Television Records)
Music has a tendency of collecting emotional baggage. Generally speaking people are drawn to certain song or album because of the way it makes them feel. Emotion causes the listener to return to music throughout their lifetime. The associations created between music and certain moments in time, geographical locations, and significant people embody nostalgia. Essentially experiences with music are dictated by the connotations the listener has with the material.
While personal meaning and significance attach the listener to songs and genres, those same attributes are often left unknown in regards to the creator of the music. With some artists bits and pieces surface and bubble up on their intentions or motivations behind specific albums. In some cases the personal meaning for the artists is the main drive of an album and appears blatantly in the lyrics. Many pieces without lyrics have specific emotional themes that tie back to the artists lives but rarely is the story and reasons so openly given.
Kyle Bates works out of Portland, Oregon as Drowse in addition to being the guitarist for his band Sloths. Originally released in December of 2013, Bates debut solo effort has been recently reissued on cassette through Television Records.
Songs to sleep on is one crushing mass that smothers you with indistinguishable sounds. At just under fourteen minutes, songs to sleep on refuses to obey any form of time. Depending on the listen, it can slip by without the slight recollection of change, while sometimes it can feel like an immense journey all on its own. Remnants of piano and guitar work occasionally float to the surface under the sporadic appearance of wordless vocal tones but never do they rise above the murky mix. Each track is like a bottomless well; there is no telling how many pieces make them up, just that it is one cohesive slab of sound.
Unnerving and haunting best describe songs to sleep on. It is not that Bates is using overly disturbing or unsettling sounds; it is the subtle changes of a boundless mass and the story that does it. Bates makes the story behind Drowse and his first EP quite clear right from the start. With the bandcamp download comes a comic he wrote that depicts the events that led to the depressing time in his life and near suicide that directly preceded songs to sleep on. To know the story that helped create these chilling tracks makes them even all the more powerful to hear. It is one thing to know an artist was depressed when they wrote their music, that happens often enough, it is quite another to learn of the specific events and reasons behind the depression. It creates almost a personal tie to the artist and the meaning to their emotion.
Songs to sleep on exist as very intimate experience balancing between drawing out your own emotions and exposing Bates’ for all to hear.
Rating: Liked It