Sleep Party People are beguiling. Although from Copenhagen, there is little that is Scandinavian about Lingering. Geographically, it belongs nowhere, except a deserted cove with a secluded beach. Sleep Party People didn’t promise sunshine.
Inevitably with a piece that has been written, performed, recorded and produced by one person, there is plenty of introspection on this album. Brian Batz is the man behind the sometimes literal mask of Sleep Party People. Lingering is one of the most vulnerable pieces of work I have heard by a male artist. As a result, there is a certain amount of listener voyeurism. On ‘Figures’ it feels as if you are intruding into Batz’s thoughts whilst he speaks to himself, pacing in an empty room. The blessing is that they are positive thoughts. It’s an optimistic musical pep-talk. Both he and the music are propelled forward into the brightest of futures.
There are a number of tracks that will send you into a new state of consciousness. The lead single, ‘The Missing Steps’, is one of a few songs that references dreams. In fact, this does have the surrealism of a Magritte painting, fluffy clouds in a blue sky with steps that lead to nothing, sheering off into the ozone. ‘Vivid Dream’ is decidedly more woozy. There are few words, just waves of keyboard and guitar. The song hinges around its ability to transport you, primarily through Batz’s mental space.
Sleep Party People’s main art is to give you a feeling of genuine openness whilst allowing you access to the most internal and intensely personal songs. ‘Lingering Eyes’ is such a one. In contrast to the previous tracks, this is about ‘sleepless nights.’ Batz has a voice of such fragility, like a grown up choirboy.
There is more than a hint of monasticism about the album. ‘Odd Forms’ might well be about the dread of hospital visiting hours but it gives the impression of true solitariness, white gauze over an open window. ‘Salix And His Soil’ shows that where there is dark there is always light, in the humorous Super Mario-inspired organ sample. Batz’s voice is detached and bodiless, as if it can survive without the corporeal. I begin to wonder if he has to wear a mask because he is not actually made of flesh like the rest of us. Batz hits high notes worthy of Feargal Sharkey. It is rare to hear a male voice of such beauty.
‘The Fainting Spell’ is about childhood shyness. He sings of ‘the fear of the unknown’. His voice is enticing over the top of a dystopian keyboard and the discordant clang of what sounds like a building site, a possible reflection of the distortion, chaos and clamour in Batz’s head. He sounds like he would bruise very easily.
This album is sheer vulnerability. Talk about taking off the mask.
Lingering will be released on 2nd June 2017 through Joyful Noise.