Sleeps In Oysters: The Brambles in Starlight
Seed Records

In all likelihood, every review of Sleeps in Oysters' The Brambles In Starlight will start by mentioning the handspun ball of wool that the three-inch CD arrives within—this review included. And there's nothing wrong with that, so long as the reviewer doesn't overlook the recording itself, which is more than deserving of attention, even if it's only a teaser for the band's forthcoming Lo! full-length scheduled for release on Seed Records in early 2011. Limited to 150 copies, The Brambles In Starlight, the group's follow-up to its debut We Kept the Memories Locked Away Like the Beetles of our Childhood, squeezes five pieces, three of them B-sides and a remix exclusive to this release, into a svelte sixteen-minute running time.

Lisa Busby and John Harries open the EP with the title track, with Busby chanting “doo-doo-doo ba-ba-haa” amidst an arcade full of flickering melodies, followed by galloping breakbeats and a whirring cornucopia of electronic mayhem of one kind or another—three minutes of rambunctious weirdness that sounds at times like barnyard animals on ecstasy. The frenetic pace of the opener is exchanged during “Across the Stones” for a contemplative meander of glimmering keyboard fragments that intone tentatively, as if trying to figure out which direction to take. John's hushed vocal delivery lends the song a night-time ambiance that carries over into the haunting electronic-folk song “Redwoods, New Orleans Suite,” which exudes a woozy, even slightly diseased character, its unsettled character reinforced when the duo trades verses. Though its arrangement is skeletal compared to the others, “Cry Wolf, Cry” ends up being the most memorable of the five songs, largely due to the mournful wolf cry that acts as a rhythmic pedal point to Lisa's tender “Don't cry, wolf, cry” plea. All told, the release plays like some mystifying oddity from the heart of the black forest, a macabre Grimm's fairy tale brought to sonic life.

February 2011