[sic] Magazine

Our Sleepless Forest – Our Sleepless Forest

A disappointment. Especially coming from the superb and sadly missed Resonant label. I so wanted to like Our Sleepless Forest but this dense, layered record has turned out messy and over-indulgent. The London based band seems to be going for a blend of drone, electronica, trance and old school ‘new-age’ ambience. ‘Nomads’ is a bad start. They throw everything including the kitchen sink into this track – whirling loops, sleigh bells and crying infants. I guess they were aiming for some kind of sensory overwhelment on behalf of the listener? Actually they achieve this. Imagine speeding across the vast Serengeti pursued by the Russian state circus through a World War I re-enactment between the entire animated casts of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Paprika. It’s effective certainly. My problem is that it is just not a very nice effect. It’s too much. It’s overkill. There are some lovely guitars at the start of ‘The Tinderbox’ but before too long the mix will be similarly filled with swirling noise and beats. Minimal this ain’t. There’s no space for the listener to draw breath, never mind actually impose his own connections and interpretation of the music.

This album will divide audiences. That itself is a good thing. Some listeners will find this pretty mind-blowing, of that I’m fairly certain. It is also true that I haven’t heard anything quite like it before. You can spend long periods of time in this job without encountering such originality. For me personally though, Our Sleepless Forest is too one-way. They’re bombarding us and we’re unable to react with anything other than shellshock. This is not to say that the album is without its moments of loveliness. The strings for example on ‘Doors in limbo’ are a beautiful thing. And ‘White bird’ is probably an example of Our Sleepless Forest getting it right. It manages to stay ambient just shy of two minutes before turning into a Cocteau Twin-ish ‘William Tell Overture’ of a track. I have to confess that this time they nail it. Stirring stuff indeed but to carve a whole album out of this kind of material? It was never really going to happen, sadly.