The Refractors: Eight Year Sleep

Tucked inside a lovely box design is a three-inch CD containing The Refractors' 8 Year Sleep, a twenty-two minute suite that's as intoxicating as incense. Abetted by guitarist Clayton McElvoy on two pieces, Pacifica, California-based couple Kayline and Joseph Martinez craft eight moody miniatures from vocals and a presumed arsenal of guitar, keyboards, percussion, field recordings, and electronics. If their music calls any other group to mind, it would have to be Set Fire To Flames, given how much the female voice bleeding through an electronic scrim in 8 Year Sleep's “There Goes Nature” recalls a similarly-styled track on Telegraphs in Negative/Mouths Trapped in Static.

In large measure, though, the Martinez's faded and ghostly music seems very much their own, especially when the eight settings flow into one another so naturally. 8 Year Sleep opens with “A Fall Disguised as a Rise,” a wavering ambient drone breathed into life by Kayline's wordless vocal and the soft exhale of Jospeph's sound design. The mournful “Lull” finds Kayline musing alongside the crackle of a dying fire and the gentle surge of water lapping ashore while organ and strings swell in the background. In the slightly disturbed “Divisive Static,” Kayline's distorted voice murmurs over a twangy drone, while “Swept Away” pairs guitar picking with a spoken text by Jospeh about disorientation and ghosts (“I think I'm lost in my own neighbourhood…”). There are instrumentals too, such as “Inherit,” which is dominated by peaceful, shimmering streams of processed guitar and piano, and the piano-and-guitar reverie “Lullaby for the Wakeful.” While obviously not a long recording, 8 Year Sleep is nevertheless a captivating one.

August 2009