It feels as if ambient and experimental soundscapes are the most suitable musical response to our times. With sentiment around the ongoing pandemic decaying from a fragile optimism to a dreary, head-down resignation, music that tries to address the situation with words often grates, and misses the mark.
Listen: Sleepsang – Beyond
Beyond, the new record from Sleepsang, spares us any well-intentioned, cringeworthy attempt at poetry, cutting straight through to the core with its resonant sound-worlds. Addressing ‘the bitter and complex present’, the record travels between melancholic ambience and outbursts of noise. Touchstones referred to by the artist point to the place of escapism and submersion in alternate worlds to find relief from the present – VR experiences, the fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin, and immersive video games.
Beyond, for me, is as close as we get to art imitating life in these times, teetering between a reflection of reality and an escape from it. This is essential listening, in both senses of the word.