Hidden Jams: sleepmakeswaves, ‘…and so we destroyed everything’

In the Bandcamp/Soundcloud era, there’s a lot of crap floating around the internet — but there’s also a wealth of excellent music most people will never hear. With “Hidden Jams,” we put a spotlight on those great albums.

sleepmakeswaves and so

There are things afoot in Australia at the moment. Post-rock is a genre known primarily for its biggest bands, not its biggest scenes; people are more likely going to be able to rattle off names like Slint, Tortoise, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, and Caspian rather than certain regional scenes like the one in Ireland. As I mentioned some time ago in a piece on Ending Satellites and Solkyri, two acts responsible for some of 2013’s best post-rock, the Australian indie label Bird’s Robe Collective is a hotbed for post-rock, with impressive up-and-comers like Solkyri and Dumbsaint as well as big names like 65daysofstatic compromising its stellar roster.

Another name to include in the former group — though it’s looking more and more like it will become part of the latter — is sleepmakeswaves, an Australian band who made a considerable splash in 2012 by being nominated in the Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal category of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards for its debut, …and so we destroyed everything. Not unlike the American Grammy awards, the ARIAs are a little liberal with their definition of “metal”; though there are moments where sleepmakeswaves ventures into post-metal terrain, the group’s sound fits most comfortably into the broadest categorization of post-rock.

This isn’t to say, however, that it’s post-rock by the numbers. Post-rock is a genre in a curious time and place; it’s gotten to the point where even when a band or artist in the genre hits all the requisite sonic signposts (crescendo and decrescendo, soaring guitar lines, a broad “cinematic” scope), to the point where the music feels rather been-there-done-that. (For evidence of this, look to the last few Pelican LPs.) As with any genre, blueprints and formulas emerge over time, with a potential result being the fossilization of the style itself. The artists think the fans will expect them to rely on the same old dynamic shifts, and new records will thus be shaped accordingly. With sleepmakeswaves, fortunately, this is far from the case.


…and so we destroyed everything was initially released in 2011 — only two years later is it seeing an official United States release via Monotreme — but even now, it is still a vital piece of work. Opener “to you they are birds, to me they are voices in the forest,” much like the aforementioned Solkyri’s “His Ghosts Will Invade Puerto Rico,” is the type of epic that any young musicians in the genre should use as a guide. (The group’s penchant for long, poetic names — a common trend amongst their like-minded contemporaries — is appropriately restrained, with no Red Sparowes-worthy word counts.) Equal parts mellifluous, driving, and soaring, the track is a wonderfully composed, full-bodied instrumental that offers little snippets of what’s to come — though it’s far from a simple tease. Like the seven cuts that follow, it’s immersive in exactly the way instrumental music should strive to be. It doesn’t insist upon its own epic qualities; everything flows in a perfectly natural rhythm and mood.

The shorter cuts also maintain a sense of grandeur, not willing to let their longer counterparts (the metallic “a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun” and the closing title-track) dominate solely by their running times. Numbers like “out time is short but your watch is slow” and “we like you when you’re awkward” draw from the same electronic influences that sleepmakeswaves’ Bird’s Robe compatriots 65daysofstatic play off of. Also nice is the use of strings throughout; rather refreshingly, the band didn’t instruct the violins to be a sweeping as possible, leading to a surprisingly harmonious interplay between the orchestral and electronic elements.

I first discovered sleepmakeswaves when I happened upon Bird’s Robe in early 2012. The EP that caught my eyes and ears, “in today already walks tomorrow” (available here with a name-your-own-price option) gave me an indication or two that this was something to not lose sight of on my radar. Disillusioned though I’ve become to even some of the bigger names in post-rock, the discovery of bands like Solkyri and sleepmakeswaves has not only broadened my scope to a genre that I previously understood in an insular way; it’s also made me realize that hope is far from lost for this kind of music. If nothing else, ..and so we destroyed everything does exactly what it title declares: it destroyed my preconceptions about a genre I once thought to be slumping into hibernation. As it turns out, there’s something of a great awakening happening in the land down under. sleepmakeswaves isn’t just making its splash in the states with the Monotreme release of …and so we destroyed everything; it’s a signal that there’s more ahead on the horizon.

You can stream ..and so we destroyed everything via the Bandcamp player below.

Track Listing

1. to you they are birds, to me they are voices in the forest
2. in limbs and joints
3. our time is short but your watch is slow
4. a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun
5. (hello) cloud mountain
6. now we rise and we are everywhere
7. we like you when you’re awkward
8. …and so we destroyed everything

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