Music, Reviews

Notes on “Sleep Stir” by Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie

There’s a quote from John Frusciante that came out shortly after the release of one of his records. In a letter addressed to his fans, he explained that his album “should be played as loud as possible” and that it was “suited to dark living rooms late at night.” So when I listen to Sleep Stir and I’m reminded of that quote, I think of lying in bed with a pair of headphones on, quietly drifting inward, appreciating a sort of peaceful resolution that seems fitting to end the day.

The airy vocals, simplified drumbeats, and three-piece string section all help to establish the pensive, surreal mood of the album. Yet the shrewd use of instrumentation (also featuring celesta and a moog synthesizer) is contrasted by an emphasis on seemingly mundane lyrical themes, ordinary details that are distorted into dreamy, restless fragments. “Book” is a perfect example, with the narrator floating between quaint images, yet preoccupied by the neglect of an old library book that had not been checked out in years. It’s these kinds of details–innocent, sparing–that manifest themselves throughout the record.

And even with its influences–avant guarde, chamber pop, and math rock, among others–Sleep Stir is quietly accessible. It’s a dream sequence driven by its own sense of internal logic. “The Feel” and “Room World” are indicative of these qualities, idiosyncratic narratives that extend the boundaries of one’s bedroom or else romanticize the fragile experience of driving late one night without being able to see the road. These intimate narratives are elusive, resisting the temptation of conventional meanings or interpretation. With Sleep Stir, Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie meticulously crafts an innocent pop record that offers a charmingly surreal perspective.

You can listen to the entire EP streaming via the following link:


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