Since fearlessly uncovering the fact that Sleep may have been incorporating carefully coded drugs references into their work for a while now, I have kept an eagle eye on their output on behalf of the authorities. I am pleased to say that I was able to pass their recent LP The Sciences with a clean bill of health* but when this hyperactive unit cranked out another 12″ single, Leagues Beneath, I had to be ready to leap into battle again.
First things first my copy of Leagues Beneath is just one of those common or garden black vinyl ones, the spatter ones are scarce man! Second things first, I do like me an etched record and this is the best one and by far the most detailed one I own – the hashtronaut drowning in the depths of the sea, nameless tentacled beasties from the eldritch deeps bothering him as he does. Third things first, I love Sleep unreservedly but there is a tiny, mean part of me that resents giving Jack White my money via Third Man Records, where does such a personal animus come from in me? very odd.
So are the 16:44 minutes of Leagues Beneath worthwhile, or is it just meaningless smoke from the Sleep dudes? Monolithic, or Monoriffic? for my money this is the best track they’ve put out this year, beating anything on The Sciences. Word up.
There is something absolutely pitch perfect about Leagues Beneath, I take great delight in the fact that the vocals only start in at around the 5:45 mark, just as the song seems to have rolled to a stop. I know it is something that Matt Pike takes incredible care and pride in, but the guitar tone on this track … it is just perfection, levels and levels above anything else even he has done. You end up feeling this track rather than hearing it**.
As always with Sleep, the lyrics are pretty darned disconnected and are there more for the sounds than the words and what a sound it is! Never afraid to invent a new word or two either, which is something else I love about them – ‘seabyss’ is my favourite here.
When it all comes down to it though Leagues Beneath is just that same age-old cornball story that songwriters have been telling since time immemorial, boy meets gill. Literally, our stoned diver plunges into the icy deeps, ribs fracturing and lungs ‘louvering’ under the pressure, his faceplate cracks and then he mysteriously grows gills and the empty suit hits the seafloor. As I said, all the usual Tin pan Alley stuff.
Even better than all this and the great guitar solo that shows up later on is the really lovely coda to the song, which recalls nothing other than Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes‘. What more could anyone want?
Anyway, isn’t it about time they released another record?
Now let’s have it again, but shirtless!!
*there was some nonsense chatted on the internet about the track ‘Marijuanaut’s Theme”, but I really don’t think there was anything in that at all just a song about a chick called Mary Jane.
**and I write that only under the influence of a cup of chamomile tea and a Cadburys Mini Roll; mind-altering and consciousness-raising though they may be, especially the Mini Roll.