sleepmakeswaves – Made Of Breath Only (Review)

sleepmakeswaves are a Sydney based post-rock band, including Alex Wilson (bass guitar, keyboards, piano), Otto Wicks-Green (guitars), Tim Adderley (drums), Daniel Oreskovic (guitars).

sleepmakeswaves’ third album Made of Breath Only, recorded with Nick Didia (Rage Against The Machine, Karnivool) will be released Friday March 24th through Bird’s Robe Records and is currently available for preorder here.

We were fortunate enough to get our hands on Made Of Breath Only prior to release date and gave its ten tracks a deep listen (and feel).

The album begins with an introductory track, “Our days were Polar”, which feels like a sunrise over an empty and expansive ice field, with light of multiple colours, and ice glittering silver in the light. Ice sheets shift and crack, sharpness beautifully expressed by distorted buzz and metallic sounds. “Our days were Polar” builds up into…

“Worlds Away”. “Worlds Away” is far more grounded with heaviness reminding us of an earthier landscape and initially has a feeling of flying fast over tall forests below; it could easily be in a helicopter. It feels free as well as exhilarating. As the track opens up the forest could easily shift to an ocean, with light melody expressing sunshine streaming down as we continue to move. The crisp elements give an icy feel, giving the impression of travelling to an icy landscape.

There is an expression of tension which changes from the sensation of flying into coming in to land. And all becomes still, silent and icy, which feels like surveying the pristine white space around them. The movement is slower which feels like exploring (and enjoying) a place on foot, before the track builds up, and we are back in the helicopter, and a stronger ballad feel of sound feels like a homecoming, already missing the beauty. The close of the track feels like a sweet memory.

If we wanted to make sense of the title, “Worlds Away”, it could be referring to these different spaces we have on the planet, not necessarily sought out by everyone but powerful in what they hold if we choose to absorb them.

“To light and then return” feels hectic and tension-laden, starting with heavier guitars, almost in conflict. There’s a sense of a discussion or a clash of two parties in this track. Halfway through the tension lifts and there’s a clarity and hopefulness and building potential and excitement, like “We could do this!”. There’s an ‘outspoken’ guitar, a voice to lead that power that was spent in conflict into something productive instead. The end of the track returns to a similar hecticness as it began, but hopefully things have evolved at least?

We loved “Tundra” and getting to hear this track when it was released as a single. At the time we described the sense of stress and hurry in this track; with things to do, hustle and bustle, stress, work, people crossing paths and getting places.

We also wrote: “And then there is a spark, of something different, that breaks all of those must-dos into something with enticing potential. It is grounding, pulling down into hard work and effort, yet is exciting and rewarding at the same time. It rolls onward and feels ever more challenging that the hard work will never end.. before expanding into finally getting to live the fruits of this. And it goes beyond that. It’s a feeling of home, inner settling down, and intense peace and stillness, with joy dancing at the heart. “Tundra” is a perfect name for this.”

The following track, “The edge of everything” has a sense of horror to it, like “Oh my god, look what we’ve done”. There’s a feeling of time ticking away and things moving out of our grasp, change set in motion whether we like it or not.

As things lighten, this air of concern is still there, soon unfolding into feeling like questions and plans. The heavy drums coming in give the impression of statements made and lines drawn, before continuing progress, and taking action. The feeling is being driven forward, with spectacular guitar chaos feeling like a machine, with cogs turning and wheels churning.

The next song is the title track, “Made Of Breath Only”. It has a spectacular introduction of zaps and cracks before openness and stillness. The piano has the stage and speaks softly and seriously, while a coolness swirls around behind it, building up into something stronger. There’s a feeling of complication and concern, but possibility is still existing. It’s beautiful.

The seventh track is “Into the arms of Ghosts” which feels like a cold wind across your back at the introduction. A pulsing beat and shiver-inducing sounds create a feeling of uncertainty as to what is going on around you.

The guitars amp up and it’s heavy and frantic and glorious, feeling like mental confusion. As it lightens there’s a feeling of searching, before a settling and feeling like what was being sought was found. But tension reigns and the franticness is there again, with a beautiful build up leading into something that feels like surrender.

“Midnight Sun” begins with a sweet melody and light pulses and gentle guitar. Are we standing here in the sun? Subtle zaps give the sense of sun over an icy landscape. The feeling is positive and observing things as they’re happening; breathing deeply. As the song continues it feels like a call for exploration and play and feels open with possibility. There’s a dance between lightness and dreaminess, and more powerful movement and realisations. The track closes tenderly.

The next track “Glacial” is heavier and more sombre from the outset. There’s a sense of hugeness to what is being witnessed. Heavy guitars and drums reinforce the feeling of being weighed down, in something serious and being significantly impacted by it. The end of the track feels cold and empty; spacious enough for chords to be echoed back at us.

The final track on Made of Breath Only is “Hailstones” and, similarly to “Our days were Polar”, has some vocalisations on the track. This is perfect to close the album; feeling like a conclusion as well as possibility.

At times it feels like collisions, before opening up into something really peaceful and beautiful that you can drift away in. As the track comes to a close, it feels like a building up, and the crashing cymbals could give the impression of the impact of hailstones and rain.

Made of Breath Only as an album was quite a ride, feeling like you were taken on a journey and gently presented things, exactly as they are. I’m not entirely sure how these soundscapes come to life as beautifully as they do. Sleepmakeswaves are clearly very skilled at ‘painting’ with their music, and this art they have made is something special and worth surrendering to.

Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it.

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