Beauty in solemnity

Sleepingdog – With our heads in the clouds and our hearts in the fields

Stream – ‘He loved to see the world through his camera’

A couple of months ago, I was lucky to catch Low live. The opening act played this magnificent, utterly beautiful music that was soaring (courtesy of a guitar daisy chained to god-like pedals) paired with an angelical voice.

The band was called Sleepingdog and it’s a duo. Chantal Acda plays keyboards, acoustic guitar and lets her voice mesmerise you. Adam Wiltzie, from that drone ambient fantasy band called Stars of the lid, provides a sweeping, ethereal ambient sound that mostly feels like a space church organ, but it all comes from a guitar. He does back up voice in a couple of songs too.

This album, With our heads in the clouds and our hearts in the fields, released in 2011, is just a sample of their magnificent, soothing music. Like a John Constable painting, the sheer beauty is due to the expansive landscape you get, where the green pastures are usually juxtaposed with overcast skies.

‘The untitled ballad of you and me’ is the first, solid step that the album takes. You never feel the 8 minutes this song lasts, heck, it even feels like it needs more time to sink completely (like a hug). It’s just utterly beautiful, with its majestic distortion and wistful piano. ‘It leaves us silent’ follows suit, although the ambience mapping it isn’t that rarefied.

‘Horse lullaby’ is heart-rending. Chantal Acda‘s voice is like the wind whispering through fields of barley while leaves are being rustled (due to the swelling guitar tones). You get more of her sweet, sweet voice in ‘Polish love song’  (a highlight of their live show) . ‘Polish love song’ slowly crossfades into ‘Kitten plays the harmony rocket’, an almost minimalistic instrumental piece that needs no voice to tug your heartstrings. There’s this bit of slow vibrato that, if you are listening with good earphones, feels like a low magnitude quake. It’s another gorgeous passage through the palette of Sleepingdog‘s musical talents.

‘From where it was’ richly mixes that organ sound with a gorgeous acoustic picking. The song is so melancholic it makes you want to hug the person next to you (two petitions for hugs in a review, uh oh). Pure emotions run on this one and all the atmospheric landscapes that Adam Wiltzie lays out are excellent as they never overbear Chantal‘s voice. Both musicians complement each other’s style so well that you really appreciate it in the  final mix (which is also gorgeous).

The album closes with ‘Scary movie’, a song that again starts with a downbeat, self-reflecting tone, but slowly but surely, lifts your mood. In retrospective, it was a perfect pairing with Low, because even if they are not same genre at all, the effect you get from their music is the same: a quiet but emotionally loud experience, and rattling your senses without actually shouting is the fingerprint of a good artist conveying the human soul through music.

Succinctly said: This album is gorgeous.

Words: Sam.


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About the author: You know who you were talking with?” “No” “It’s the guy from Stars of the lid…” “Holy God!”True story. Also: POG pedals rule.

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