Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick hitters:: My People Sleeping

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As the opening notes of Seahorse echo in your headphones, you are struck with a sense of uneasiness. Sure over the course of the song, the percussion, hand claps and pleasantries the song offers helps you settle in, but the ominous off-kilter piano that grabs you ear really makes you wonder what waits tucked around the dark corners of the song. And to be completely honest, hearing the boy/girl vocals and echoing harmonies does nothing to ease my discomfort.

The quartet builds the song perfectly – a well placed, resonating note in the distance, repeating vocal lines and hand claps that move closer and gain strength all contribute to the mood – and the five-minute track surges forward and never lets the listener’s attention drift. Every time you think it's going to be ok, they add something that makes you question everything you've heard.

After hearing a few songs, it becomes obvious that My People Sleeping explore the battles between security and terror; man versus machine. The human emotions James, Ruby Kato and Katherine present with well executed vocal interplay – think stripped down, minimal Mother Mother - constantly try to get a solid foothold as they battle the cold, robotic synths. For every calming note, a chaotic one follows quickly. For every relaxing reprieve, there is a rushed breath of anxiety and remarkably My People Sleeping is able to do this with a fairly consistent tempo.

That attention to detail, especially as they constructs lo-fi melodies (despite the large amount of sounds and textures they play with), is crucial. Unlike many bands in their nascent days, My People Sleeping seems to have an understanding of their sound, where they want each song to end up and a sense of individuality that is all too often lacking. Tracks like R.R. Hood and Momma Frankenstein may be quick ditties on paper, but the songs offer a great glimpse of what My People Sleeping can accomplish. R.R. Hood starts with swirling vocals, but the drum machine clap and keep type synth line gives the song a jump start and transform the mood completely.

I think the highlight of the self-titled EP - at least what I've heard - is Time Machine. The song, a slow moving four minute effort, encapsulates the immense potential of the band. Vivid images are drawn out with beautiful, slow, moving three-part harmonies and terrific strings, but any warmth is stifled in the man versus machine composition the band prefers and as they repeat, "we could go back" over and over again, you start to wonder if you would, even if you could.

Posted at 8:50 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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