Upon hearing Sleep Party People’s new album “Floating” – released worldwide on 2. June 2014 – for the first time, the first element that strikes is the vocals of Brian Batz, the project’s mastermind. Practically gone are the harsh, vocoded tones characterising his early work. Instead, in enters an ethereal, yet natural multi-tracked falsetto. Batz descends upon each track in a way that is transfixing, reminiscent of a warm, familiar friend, yet arrestingly foreign. Opener “Change in Time” wholly showcases this change. Vocals hover above and not between other elements, sounding organic when placed next to the Sleep Party People back catalogue.
This is not to say Sleep Party People have softened their aural ferocity, simply that their sound is now anchored around a vocal that is more human than ever.
Finishing the track is a wall of synth accompanied by head spinning, frenetic drums.
Elsewhere, “Floating” is flooded with sounds that conjure disparate visual imagery. The title is not to be interpreted lightly; listeners are literally shrouded in a world which transcends a normal reality, floating among Batz’s enchanting and vulnerable psyche.
However, this gives the album a contestably light touch. Most sounds are run through audio processors, huge reverb chambers, phasers, fuzz boxes; all combining to make a record which spends most of its time in the higher frequencies. This works well for drunk, late night, semi-melancholic listening, or as a soundtrack to a dreamy haze of an afternoon, but lacks the consistent, melodic hooks for those wanting conventions of popular songwriting.
Case in point is the proggy synth outro of “Stranger Among Us”. An epic build up leaves the listener feeling somewhat unfulfilled. Hoping for extended euphoric pandemonium, we are swiftly led away to another track, denying the gratification that comes with a foothold in a consistent groove.
Rest assured, this is not Batz’s aim.
To conform to any existing melodic or sonic structure would take away from the distinctive world he has created. Batz is forging his own unique path. An album’s album, “Floating” sends us intimately through the musician’s hyperactive musical brain, crafting new ways to appreciate sound.