Like most of the best bands of our young adult lives, you probably remember the first time you heard Slint. Perhaps through a friend, or digging it out of a sale bin at The Wall, or some other mall record store that was trying to unload early-’90s rock to make room for Ricky Martin. Those slow shifts from quiet strumming to blistering noise, from reluctant spoken-word vocals to piercing screams made perfect sense, and you discovered the missing link between the Pixies and Tool. Sparse, beautiful and angry, at times almost cinematic, if we’re talking experimental like Maya Deren or the Brothers Quay, Slint struck a chord and evaporated after two records.
Scotland’s Aereogramme all but name-check Slint on their second full-length Sleep and Release. Equally as cinematic in their scope, yet containing a sense of confidence that Slint uniquely lacked. The force of their outbursts is more focused, more prevalent, and more fucking loud. Sleep and Release‘s opener “Indiscretion #2&3” quickly lays the cards on the table with an opening bass line ripped directly from Doolittle, then, after about 2.8 seconds, the crush of guitar smacks it down. Riff-happy, sonic blasts then evolve into chants of “praise the lord,” only to be smacked down yet again guitar. Very gratifying.
The quiet/loud thing is pretty big for bands coming out of Glasgow lately; Mogwai have built a career on it. This was the case with Aereogramme’s debut record, yet they transcend this pigeonhole on Sleep and Release, opting for more varied tone shifts. On the lush “Black Part,” the sonic overload is accompanied by strings that segue into “A Simple Process of Elimination,” a standout track of lyrical. Soon after singer Craig B’s quivering voice pleads “erase us,” a chilling audio sample from an answering machine has a woman begging to “please, please get in touch with me.” These sample oddities are consistent throughout the record, and all add to the sense of awe and dread.
Like most great rock records, Sleep and Release is complex, harrowing, intense and beautiful, and best listened to closely.