Album Review: Sleep Vol. 1 – Neonpajamas

Do you sometimes find it hard to fall asleep? Odds are that you do—in the modern industrialized world that we live in, sleep has become a valuable good that not everyone can afford. Plus, the omnipresence of social-media on our electronic devices with bright, fidgeting screens has a wide-ranging negative effect on sleeping patterns as well. Therefore, many of us – especially the ones not profiting too much from said world-concept—suffer from insomnia to a degree that makes it pose an actual threat to public health on a global scale.

However, Ben Niespodziany, aka Neonpajamas, is trying to provide some sort of remedy for this. The Chicago-based full-time librarian and full-soul album curator, editor, poet and illustrator released the appropriately titled Sleep Vol. 1 on May 27th, Part One of an ongoing series of extended plays on his own label (with Vol. 2 already in the starting blocks and set for release on June 10th). “It takes the average person seven minutes to fall asleep,” he writes, so why not curate a seven track EP with music that might help you sleep?

The record features a musically diverse and yet unified-sounding group of artists: St. Louis-based Cory Grindberg, fellow Chicagoans Jaro and Joe Nora, as well as Barnes Blvd., Alone Time, TedLK and Shrimpnose, all of whom prove to be experts in their respective fields. Whilst Grindberg – who usually takes less of a structural approach to his music that is almost reminiscent of soundscapes that R. Murray Schafer might have thought of – delivers some very bassy sequences on “Theta Waves”, the album explores a variety of musical possibilities. Alone Time’s “Kind of Existing” dips its feet into polytonality, Joe Nora explores the beauty of drum-set-driven modern Jazz on “Naps” and Shrimpnose is somewhere between SoundCloudishness and Folk with his detuned guitar-chords and melody lines.

In short: the whole thing is very interesting to listen to and still deeply relaxing. And although I didn’t fall asleep I felt a bit warmer after listening to the record, which is rare enough.

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