Over a decade ago, Brian Batz fiddled with an old, out-of-tune piano. This innocent event would change his life forever, leading him down a path that eventually would lead to the birth of Sleep Party People. Three critically-acclaimed albums later, the Copenhagen-based has become a global indie darling, as he’s been compared to Radiohead, Boards of Canada, Caribou, and The Antlers. On Friday, he unveiled his fourth album, Lingering, which sees Batz chart a new course to further stun old and new fans.
Lingering is an immaculate display of unearthly dream-pop. From the opening seconds to the very last, Sleep Party People creates varied soundscapes that are radiant in their approach and stunning in their execution. Its bookends provide the perfect framework for the record. The opener, “Figures”, is beautifully dramatic and cinematic. It begins with a lush and dazzling atmosphere before intensifying into a driving, urgent anthem. The closer, “Vivid Dreams”, is an ambient escape filled with solemn tones. The floating echoes of the organ, the shoegaze that resonates from the electric guitar, and shimmering percussion bring the interstellar into the spatial confines of the church.
Within the heart of the album, however, resides Sleep Party People’s most brilliant works. The Thom Yorke-esque “The Missing Steps” is hypnotic and exhilarating. Batz sings, “It’s exactly like a dream”, which perfectly describe the song’s effect. The spectacular “Fainting Spell” is a 3.5-minute ride that crisscrosses through electronica, deep house, indie rock, electro-rock, chamber-pop, and experimental indie. It is the red pill that takes us into Batz’s surreal Wonderland. Further taking us down the proverbial rabbit hole is “Lingering Eyes”. This sultry number feels like a late-night affair taking place within the beaming darkness of space. Think Sade converging with M83’s interstellar numbers and the psychedelic-disco of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker.
The psychedelic hues are further infused on the album’s highlight, “The Sun Will Open Its Core”. Swirling synths, feathery production, a throbbing bass line, stuttering percussion, and scintillating guitar line create a dreamy soundscape that Parker would envy. Batz’s vocals are startlingly weightless, floating above the haze and bringing us alongside him on this interstellar journey. The haze, though, gets thicker on “Dissensions”, on which Batz teams up with Danish band Luster. The song is a mix of dreamgaze, post-rock, and neo-psychedelia, and its effect is one of breathtaking splendor.
A fairy tale vibe occupies the gentle and serene “Odd Forms”. The guitar strums are light and delicate, echoing ’70s soft-rock and the Los Angeles music scene. Batz’s vocals are sensually distant, but his lyrics possess a slight darkness. Batz sings almost nonchalantly, “With his eyes and mouth wide open, he can sense the Grim Reaper”. A film-noir drama, meanwhile, envelopes “We Are There Together”, which has AIR collaborator Beth Hirsch singing lead vocals. Batz’s instrumentation is taut to build the suspense, and Hirsch’s captivating vocals tell the story of two trying to find one another again. Images of people on fog-covered Paris bridges in the 1930s flood one’s mind.
Such is the power and allure of Sleep Party People’s music. It is cinematic and enchanting, breathtaking and dazzling. However, Lingering is more than a dream-pop record, but one that transcends the genre. It is an escape into the cosmos and deep into one’s mind. It is also a journey into the brilliance of one man. And to think, it all started with an old piano.
Featured photo on main page by Dennis Morton
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