Sleep Whale: Little Brite
Western Vinyl

Though it's satisfying as a self-contained EP, Little Brite by Sleep Whale, aka Denton, Texas-based duo Joel North (guitar, cello) and Bruce Blay (violin, sequence programming), can be heard as a twenty-six-minute teaser for the upcoming debut full-length the group's currently mixing. Sleep Whale's music situates itself midway between the acoustic and electronic realms, with the group's defining sound the merging of the strings' elegant sonorities and the acoustic guitar's bright picking with smatterings of electronic processing treatments and other sounds (music boxes, shortwave radios, tape machines, and water are cited as samplings).

The group's generally bucolic and peaceful sound is exemplified by “Skipping Stones,” a jaunty trot whose acoustic guitar picking, near-subliminal cello, and water gurgling convey the whimsical innocence of the titular activity, and “A Pebble Garden,” a guitar and cello setting that convincingly distills the title image into sonic form. Adding to the EP's bucolic character, a male voice gently floats over guitar picking in the title track, while raindrops of acoustic guitar fall during “Sleep Whale.” Standing out as the release's singular uptempo cut, the exotic hoedown Josh Likes Me” pairs brightly melodic acoustic guitar playing with Hindustani hand percussion. The EP's a promising harbinger of the album-to-come but if anything its songs would be more satisfying with fewer sonic interventions as the material's melodic appeal comes through most effectively when the songs are presented in their simplest and least cluttered form.

August 2009