The Sandman Wears a Mask – Sleep Forever (CD-R, Slow Death Records)

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The Sandman strikes again with eight more tracks of harsh and subtle walls, each running about ten minutes for a grand total of 70 minutes on Sleep Forever. This disc is the second release from the duo, but it’s also somewhat weaker purpose than The Sandman Wears a Mask’s previous work. On Sleep Forever, Ghost and Alois Richter attempt to build more minimalist walls with sourced radio sounds, with shorter track lengths.

The “Untitled” opener is a chugging track of standard harsh noise wall, with a continuous bass sound rollicking in the background over what sounds like a solitary strand of static that wavers but rarely changes. This ten-minute event is perhaps the most faithful to the wall sound of Sandman’s earlier works, although it doesn’t garner the same sort of intense aural experience as their previous endeavors because of the track’s generic sound. Despite this, however, it’s quality material that HNW fans will like, especially for its rigidity.

The second track contains a more pared-back blend of static and bass, this time opting for a soft whirr of sound along with pulsating bass and a nicely nuanced ultra-thin static snare that oscillates in the background like a snake in high grass. This one is really one of the best tracks on here, proving that the minimalist wall can be done well with the right amount of texturing.

Number three goes another step away from static, with a muffled rumble and an abyssal-sounding echo. There’s a bit of crumble underneath it all as the bass slowly tosses and tussles amongst the whir of the background, and there’s some depth to the two sounds once the crumbly beast gets roiling. However, the track’s easy to lose interest in, as it drops the sort of enveloping tones of seemingly random but controlled rhythmics for a more ambient approach that has little base to cement the sound.

Track four has a fast-paced judder of bass that occasionally offers up a changing rhythm, although much of the sound centers on the same sort of pulse that can be created by setting up a single line of feedback. In short, this very minimal track may have its perks (hypnotizingly spare), but its overall simplicity left me wanting more. Track five sounds sourced from some sort of fire, and has a nice crunchy texture to it underneath a simple, moving rumble, and there’s also a sense of buzzing with it.

Six has some buzz to it, with a crunchy outer layer, a sweeping-like shifting, and a pattern of crunchy, minimal dotting in the mix; you can picture it like somebody dropping marbles softly on the floor. Another great track, not necessarily harsh noise walls but certainly embarking on a more ambient bent. And then we get there with track seven, a hovering mass of suspenseful buzz and bass behind it, as though an aircraft is touching down lightly over the listener’s head. These two are the shortest in length, only five minutes apiece, and it seems as though The Sandman Wears a Mask were hesitant to keep these minimal tracks from running too long. I believe they could have done so if they chose, however. And then Sleep Forever returns to form with a surprising wall of static that ebbs and flows, often churning and then leaving short absences of sound for an excellent finish.

The majority of this disc is great ambient walls of sound. Some of the tracks lose their appeal quickly because of their sparse nature, but others really hammer home the usefulness of graceful flowing minimalism. While Sleep Forever doesn’t hit the erratic noise of The Sandman Wears a Mask’s first release, the intent of these walls – to induce a fugue of sleep or fatigue over a long period of time – definitely makes a mark.

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