November 5, 2009

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Sleep Whale, Houseboat
Western Vinyl, Nov. 10

Not as accessibly country/pop/hard-rock as Built To Spill nor as Pink Floydian as Spacemen 3, Sleep Whale occupy the space in the Granddaddy sound that signifies it’s time to nap, in other words their default mode is similar to Black Tambourine’s. There they sit, curled in a mollusk shell miles away, only half-electronic, the other half unplugged, strummed Ovations seeming to bend lazily with the tides. Tools of this Texas pair include spacey reverb and other attributes native to old Donovan albums — “Hurdy Gurdy Man” would have been the rockout on this album, if you ignore the uppity pair of chords and drum-n-bass loop that hang out in “Still Drumming” for a while, in between shape-shifting, swoopy synth lines that change color before your ears. Mesmerizing stuff, to be sure, often lazing in a ’70s-cinema-romantic bed of flutes, not too glitchy (although there’s some out-and-out circuit-bending, probably an electrocuted Furby, that comes in right about on cue). These guys love them some backward-masked reverb, making things even more blurry, particularly in “Make Another Picture,” which is completely soaked in it. AEWS