Review - The Sleepy Strange

Artist: Japancakes

As evidenced on Japancakes' second full-length, "The Sleepy Strange," the Athens-based collective's repetitive symphony separates sugar-coated dreams from musical transcendence. It was recorded in a most unusual way: Each member of the band learned only the basic melody of the song before going into the studio where they performed a repetition of the chords, for hours, accentuating the moods in the melody and tempo. The very simplistic yet somehow intricate results turn out to be complex schematics for a new improvisational form of modern instrumental ambient music.

As a nod to heavy influences of Ravi Shankar and Speedy West, layers of perfectly blended pedal-steel guitar and cello are poured like syrup over country-Western cadences. The final cut on the album, the pulsing "Vinyl Fever," emulates the feel of rain beating on glass -- it is borderline psychotherapeutic. "The Sleepy Strange" is chaos contained in a euphoric package, a beautiful soundtrack behind whatever you want it to be.

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