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memotone: I Sleep. At Waking (Black Acre)

Black Acre veers further into leftfield than I’ve heard before with this full-length from talented musician William Yates. He has a series of 12" releases under his belt, but his music is new to me. Despite my usual association of Black Acre with downtempo beats, a good portion of I Sleep. At Waking is completely beatless, with unexpected ambient and atonal arrangements peppered throughout. It has a cinematic quality, but it’s not overly dramatic; these sounds are more fragile and taut, reminding me of the sampling and appropriation of Murcof or perhaps Colleen. His ability to temper these samples with some slick beatmaking now and then offer glimpses in common with James Blake’s Klaviermusik or the leftfield jazz-tinged downtempo of Triosk, though I find just as much in common with the more sentimental moments of Peter Broderick’s or Olafur Arnalds’s repertoires. It all comes together on “Down Illusion” where clattering percussion and a steady groove lock in step with moody piano chords and overtones, or on “Suburb” with its disorienting rhythm section and Murcof-esque haunting tones and drones. But even in its final tracks, the album is still full of surprises; “Rooftop”’s combination of non-western instruments with a lonely guitar solo is compelling and convincing. Refreshingly, “Djakka” all but abandons the keen sense of restraint found elsewhere on the album, laying down a percussive gauntlet that works as the album’s climax. The combination of pseudo-jazz touches, emotive piano balladeering, dark, gloomy timbre, and meticulous production make the album consistently engaging and engrossing. It’s quickly become a favorite of mine, highly recommended.

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