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Dasha Rush: Sleepstep (Raster-Noton)

Dasha Rush’s Sleepstep is one of the only full-length releases to be surface from the Raster-Noton camp in the last year, presumably with its principals investing time into their Diamond Version project. Dasha Rush already has a reputation preceding her as a techno producer and DJ, but with this first release on Raster-Noton, she embraces the more listening and art-oriented side of her creative instincts.

The subtitle for Sleepstep is Sonar Poems For My Sleepless Friends, and Rush’s intent is for these varied pieces to encourage a dreamlike state of being. That much is clear through the most obvious cuts like “Sleep Ballade” (a muted, twinkling lullaby), “A Minute After the War,” or “Lumiere Avant Midi.” However, it’s not all so obvious, as Rush’s approach here varies dramatically; I think that is part of why Sleepstep is so interesting as a listening journey. In contrast to dubbed out electronic tracks like “Antares,” there are spoken word diversions like that of “Life Time Poem,” providing a curious seesaw effect between rhythm and prose. Then again, there are other sounds like the ghostly vocal of “Sail Away” or “Lucy in the Sky, Lost Diamonds” that feel entirely other, no less appropriate for the title, but illuminating yet another side of Rush’s talents.

The musical arc, from the ghostly air of “Space Privet for Cosmonauts” and the woozy prepared piano that opens the subsequent “Dance With Edgar Poe” to the twinkling starlight of “Micro Universe” and the celestial ripple of “Outer Space,” suits Rush’s agenda well, full of somniferous excursions that range from haunting to introspective to serene. It’s one of the more sensual releases to surface on the Raster-Noton imprint in a long time, perhaps since the humanistic touch of Alva Noto’s collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto. It’s a sharp yet welcome contrast to the often more industrial and abrasive side of a label whose rhythmic tendencies have long reigned supreme.

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