Where We Sleep almost feel like the front runners in the search for a new form of rock music, one which very generously tips its hat to the darker swathed, post-punk originators but which also reminds us that commerciality and success should be the by-product of creativity not the driving factor. But it isn’t even that Where We Sleep couldn’t find themselves with commercial success, it is just that we have to change the rules first to something more realistic, something that rewards integrity and expression rather than throwaway hook and fashionable trappings.
Experiments in the Dark is the suggestion of that change, a reminder that just because we put suffixes such as post- and alt- before established musical genres, it doesn’t mean that the bands found in those new and convenient pigeon-holes are not playing by the game, they are just doing it in the trappings of the outsider. This band, however, feel like the real deal, too subtle to be the revolution but too unpredictable to just be evolution.
Based around Beth Rettig, best know as vocalist with alt-poppers Blindness, this e.p features contributions from Ben Pritchard, formerly of The Fall and currently in Manc Floyd, and former Blindness bandmate Debbie Smith of Curve, Echobelly and SPC ECO fame (and also Snowpony with My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Googe and Moonshake’s Katharine Gifford) and with so many of the right names dropping, you know this 5-track offering comes from exactly the right place.
What I Deserve kicks things off in cool and cavernous style, a claustrophobic and oppressive collection of sonic threads swirling around Rettigs dead-pan vocal style before The Desert puts more meat on the bone and delivers something much more conventionally song orientated yet still filled with creeping doom. But it is songs such as Into The Light that sees them cross into more accessible territory, a gnarled collection of the grating and the groovesome, hypnotic bass lines and searing guitars, part 80’s experimentation, part future alt-rock visions.
Maybe it is better that such music stays underground, maybe it is just the 18 year old goth in me that still dreams of hoards of black clad alternative music makers getting a shot at the big time. But that way conformity and compromise lays. Okay, let’s not go there. Better to be adored by a select few, to have the freedom to make unique and hauntingly beautiful, blasted and oblique music, than have to toe the line. Don’t you think?