Somnambule - Writing About Music

Hard Sleeper ~ “Rain”/A Leaf Spiral

This first longplayer for Sub Rosa by Dublin-based Hard Sleeper, aka Peter Maybury, sounds at times more like a group effort than the product of a lone individual. Accompanied by electronic snuffles and hollow tubular sounds, a piano multiplies, each iteration of the instrument playing small repetitive figures in its own sonic space. The music ebbs and flows as the pianos mark out melancholy rhythms until unexpectedly stopping short. In their place a market garden’s worth of electronic flora blossoms, in whose synthetic borders can be heard brief echoes of Herbie Hancock’s 1973 masterpiece Rain Dance. Later passages bleed successively into each other, percussive stabs piercing blocks of electronic noise, lambent bass hanging pendulously inside the music’s structure. Hard Sleeper’s titular references to nature underline a sense that this soundworld, although predominantly electronic, maintains a relationship with the living world. The music appears to be both constructed and performed without, however, making clear its precise methodology (the hard-edged vector design of the cd cover gives nothing away). The mystery of the interaction keeps this listener fascinated throughout. Combined with a rapt attention to the quality and placement of each sound, Hard Sleeper’s music is refreshingly unfamiliar, as though deliberately, but unselfconsciously resisting the rut of the known. The music’s development is leisurely and unpredictable, and the vast majority of the piece’s 23 minute duration can be experienced as a confident journey in an unfamiliar territory. Only at its conclusion is “Rain”’s strangeness marred somewhat by a resolution that is achieved a little too easily. The rest of the disc consists of A Leaf Spiral, a four part composition which proves as rich and spacious as its predecessor. In the first section electronic cicadas shadow the patter of radioactive rain, while in a later part, rhythmic elements are heard like hesitant clockwork felt on the skin. Here is sound, tactile and dynamic enough to make one’s ears smile. It’s difficult not to feel disappointment when the music ends.
Colin Buttimer
January 2005
Published by The Wire