Review: Sleeper – Simulation Theory EP [OSMUK036EP]
As the old myths were once told, the Egyptian god Osiris was considered the god of death but of rebirth as well. What is clear is that the Osiris label is shunning half-time dubstep sonics altogether and has reincarnated itself as a label that connects the dots between sound-system culture, techno and sound design. Those who like their dubstep smokey and rootical lament, you will not be consoled. Sleeper drops an EP of pure, unadulterated riddims that fuse the genetics aforementioned genres into a statement of purpose that is miles ahead of the competition. We foresaw the portents of Sleeper’s shift towards more Teutonic territory with his ‘Enter’ EP that dropped last year. It was only until his collaborations with Kryptic Minds on ‘Solarized Formation/Axis Shift’ that successful melded the grey industrial textures of his Enter EP and system shaking sub-bass into two potent dubstep x techno mutants. Sleeper’s ‘Simulation Theory’ EP elaborates upon these themes and allows room for greater experimentation while possessing enough bass to wreck a dance and more than enough psychotropic qualities to wreck your head in the process.
The title track ‘Simulation Theory’ oozes a plotting, purposeful intro that slow burns its way until the track explodes shards of echoes and flecks of ash in the vein of ‘Axis Shift’ [was it a possible b-side?]. Spartan hi-hats keep time while white noise from the matrix swirls amongst offset, hollowed out dub chords that swipe like a boxer’s fist. In the midst of this, the machine spirits converse in frequencies and tones that sound of old dial-up internet. An almost hum-able steppas b-line cavorts underneath, illuminating the long lost connection between sound-system culture and the techno capital of Berghain. Up next, ‘Burn the Bridge’ is all fire and brimstone as a nagging, teeth grinding 303 runs circles around your head until it’s on the verge of collapse, that is until the churning subs run rampant. Sleeper proceeds to deconstruct and warp that 303 into completely new patterns that keep the mind occupied as it continues its ascent towards some higher plane of reality. A perfect DJ tool to slip snugly in-between any number of Killawatt or KM riddims.
‘Khenti-Amentiu’ translates as “Foremost of the Westerners” and is theorized by Egyptologists to be older name for Osiris or a more eldritch God of the Dead. With that slight factoid aside, the track hammers with walloping industrial thuds in the best of the Berghain tradition. ‘Khenti Amentiu’ starts to build linear momentum as cyclical hollow, razor-wire feedback scans the cement firmament. Meanwhile, deft and subtle 303’s percolate the sound-field as jacking hi-hats rev up and urge the body to sync deeper into the space before creation. A Superb peak-time track , but if you want to get really creative pitch it down to 130 for a little extra “umph”.
Whereas Killawatt’s ‘Bring Down the Walls’ EP wrapped his stygian sound experiments as intros or addenda of songs (w/ the exception of ‘Backed into a Fucked Up Recess’), Sleeper forgoes that direction altogether, presenting them as fully formed structures. Both ‘Interference’ and ‘Meth’ maybe the shortest of the seven tracks, but viewed together, they form a two-part satanic industrial suite of sorts. ‘Interference’ sounds, well like interference. Harsh, ear splitting sine-waves pry the third eye open with a crowbar and dissolve the ego until the track slowly dissolves. ‘Meth’¹ is the more “eviler” of the two, as a distorted Sunn 0))) like drone creates an absolutely oppressive atmosphere while electrostatic voice phenomena beckon you away from the temporal condition, crying from what could possibly be hell or something worst. Both are perfect as set openers or closers and would bring a tear to Merzbow’s eye.
‘Structure 3’ comes correct with that familiar offset dubstep x techno rhythm that’s been mined by the past Osiris releases. Geared with technoid hi-hat patterns and those hollowed out dub stabs, ‘Structure 3’ is prime-time dance floor material that is guaranteed to have the dance eating out of the palm your hand. Sleeper must be an amateur Egyptologist or something as an Atef is specifically the ostrich-feather adorned crown worn by Osiris himself . ‘Atef Crown’ is all smudged and bitcrushed to hell. Everything is cocooned in a cloudy, cataract colored haze of digital debris until hypnotic Mika Vainio-esque sonar blip battles their way to the forefront. ‘Atef Crown’ propels and draws the dance into comatose-like states, until it all fades away into a florid, hypnagogic synth wash that’ll burn your skin off. A perfect track to whip those red eyed zombies into a frenzy in the early hours of the morning.
Sleeper’s ‘Simulation Theory’ is packed with nods towards rebirth, the afterlife, Egypt, techno by way of sound-system culture, and the agenda of agitation imbedded in industrial music; much of which is subconsciously (or is it?) the same direction in Osiris is moving towards. Such experimentation and disregard for by-the-numbers dubstep makes the increasingly important Osiris label so valuable. While most labels are looking back and repurposing the foundational sound (and with absolutely breath-taking results), Osiris’s continual push for “what dubstep can become” makes the label especially vital as the genre reaches into its teenage years. Additionally, Sleeper has grown by leaps and bounds as a producer. Have a listen to both his & District’s Resurrection EP and this EP and the growth that has occurred is staggering and applaud worthy. His ‘Simulation Theory’ EP, in my humble opinion, is some of the most important music to be put out within the dubstep scene at the moment.
¹ A Japanese clinical study into methamphetamine psychosis was conducted in 2000. What the clinical study found is that methamphetamine addict’s hallucinations are strikingly similar across the board. The top four being black helicopters, floating heads, armed aggressors, and bugs crawling under the addict’s skin. Perhaps the aforementioned EVP present in ‘Meth’ are the voices of the floating heads?