Reviews Sleep The Sciences


The Sciences

Hendrix takes the stage with his band—right-handed guitar upside down, LSD stashed in his headband, visions of blue baize fields and purple skies are immanent. The experience is underway. "Voodoo Child" ends, bongos rip, drums roll, Jimi feedbacks and chaos continues behind him. “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light” Jimi’s acid wash jeans match his acid washed forehead “whose broad stripes and bright stars” fight to gain control of Woodstock 1969. He initially plays faithful to the original version of the anthem. He adds a few trills and “o’er the ramparts we [watch]”. As the rockets glare, Jimi’s bombs burst in the air. Distorted harmonic dive bombs in a drug-induced fervor announce musical renditions of mortar raids. Chaos returns in the most American of tributes with all its wondrous and ugly beauty.

There’s another perspective, another rendition that gives proof that the flag is still there. Far in the remote distance Matt Pike loads his Orange amp amid the rumbles and explosions, cranks it to 11 and gives us his own version of "Star Spangle Banner", where only the bombs continue to burst. So we watch on in marijuana induced purple haze. About the same time Jimi kick starts his most famous riff, Sleep flings us into space past the stratosphere, never to return the same.

Sleep (AKA Electric Laser Lettuce) takes the stage. Their sonic cannabinoids enter the ear, pass the blood brain barrier, and remove the refectory period in our neurons, magnifying thought. Consequently, once we begin the album becomes the most significant and profound thing ever, but we forget our last epiphany. We’re caught up in a musical idea until a new one announces itself in the next song.

"The Sciences" crushes with Pike’s extremely expressive guitar playing. When Al isn’t monotonously chanting like a druid, his bass works its alchemy underneath and alongside Jason’s granite rhythm in "Marijuanaut’s Theme". The long awaited live staple, "Sonic Titan", boasts a shot-put snare, and some of the best open style playing since John Bonham, amid dirty riffs, and righteous licks. 

Sleep (AKA Johnny Red Eye and the Free Form Herbal Jazz) takes us to the remotest regions of the universe, from herb induced space journeys to an Antarctic thaw, to the pyramids of Giza. At first it’s hard to talk about Sleep. They took the best part of Black Sabbath, and went Hasidic with such a limitedly borrowed style. Yet they directly address my concerns of originality in "Giza Butler". They are the butlers of Giza, meditating a combination of riffs in a smoky haze much like Jewish mystics combine the Hebraic scripts of the Old Testament. Actually they are paying homage to the mystical magic of Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and Ozzy Osbourne, as mysterious in their workings as the construction of the ancient Egyptian pyramids. 

Yet it’s as if the combinations are endless. On paper Dopesmoker would be enough to say everything and then some! In fact I think the low speed with which Sleep drives their ship prevents them from burning through as many riffs as other bands. So how does this release measure up after starving the world of a full length for 19 years? Uncontrollable repeat listens answers my question: fucking good!

8.5 / 10Robert F.
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8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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