Optimo’s Sleepwalk mix will not get you on the dance floor. But don’t get upset; get comfortable. Unlike the brilliant Walkabout or Psych Out, Sleepwalk is couch music. And with this collection of absurdly disparate songs that are united only by an unclassifiable yet noticeable mood, the DJs who made Glasgow famous have once again rewritten the rules of the mix.
Optimo’s DJs Twitch and Wilkes have been putting on Glasgow’s go-to party for ten years. Together, the two probably possess more vinyl than many small countries. Their indefatigable crate digging is evident in this pastiche of bluegrass, country, krautrock, Cluster & Eno, Russell and the haziest Hazelwood.
The first half of Sleepwalk is somnolent, solitary and oceanic. The initial noise is waves lapping against the shore, and lyrical references to loneliness and eternity play around a languid beats: "I was swallowed by the sea, and washed ashore," sings Eden Ahbez on "La Mer."
But the mellow bliss doesn’t last for long. The mix quickly takes on a bumbling "slide and tumble slide and stumble" tour through Cluster & Eno, and a spiritual Arthur Russell singing, "Every step is moving me up." For serious Russell fans, it must feel great to hear "This Is How We Walk on the Moon," a song sampled on Diplo and Santogold’s Top Ranking, back in its original form.
In the end, Sleepwalk is about of the change of seasons, an ushering in of the introspective, solitary winter. But it could have a grander scheme behind it. If Optimo is a lodestar in the world of dance music — a genre in a state of flux — perhaps Sleepwalk is a message to those who are weary of the same old mixes of jumbled, predictable beats. "Give me the words that tell me nothing," sings Tuxedomoon. The laconic message is a ploy. Optimo gives us the songs that tell us everything.