Picture yourself* in your bed. The window is open, but everything around you is… warm. The comforter you’re buried in, mouth only just peaking out for air. The one sock you didn’t take off. Your legs are straight-up hot because you forgot to take off your jeans off before you crawled into your cocoon, and your glasses are crooked. Through your eyelids there’s a red glow, and you’re slipping in and out of consciousness for hours.
Zach Schimpf‘s latest record Sleeping captures this gorgeous, surface-sleep stage pretty perfectly. Using synths and ethereal guitar with some, dare I say it, clubby beats akin to The Postal Service, Sleeping has the listener moving between reality and dreams–finding that perfect mental space where everything seems to make sense.
Some songs just slip right past, moving directly into the back of the brain. “Breathing” starts out sounding a bit like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Home” with twangy guitars and what sounds like muted stomping. Schimpf follows each line on the heals of the previous, driving the listener on to the sudden stop and Surfer Blood-y start to “Movin’ Right Along.”
The song then transforms into something both driving and easy-going, as if Schimpf is ushering the listener into that beautiful half-dream state “Sundogs” initiates. Each song has its own little nuance in crucial places–just when the listener falls out of sync in “In Place,” a harmonica shows up, and Schimpf sings “Laying under a tree / Yeah I’m finding new ways to think… everything’s right where it should be,” lulling them back into place.
The best part, though, is that each song starts out sounding like a wildly different artist than the previous. Four minutes in to “Everything Happens for No Reason,” the beat drops even further–almost like a mild version of the drop in Nicki Minaj’s “Pound The Alarm.” “July” has distinct WHY? overtones, while Beach House is all over “Out of It,” but at some point in the song Schimpf stops reminding the listener of other people. He moves into this space in the musical sphere where he exists, where the guitars and heartbeat echos slide into place. Perhaps the best example of this is “Blinding,” where all the sweeping synths and delicate plucks from previous tracks melt together and surround the listener with an awesome blend of hooks, airy vocals and electro-wub.
And maybe it’s the Logophile in me, but the accuracy in naming each song, not to mention the album name, just kills me. “Cicadas” feels like a warm summer night, surrounded by bugs and not caring at all. In “July,” Schimpf articulates the restlessness that visits everyone midway through the summer/year “You’ll be breaking your neck / just to find a warm face / you’ll be biting your tongue / just to satisfy taste… With sleep and some pain, I’ll find the things I erased.” His Saint Louis heart just pours out of this record, making it necessary listening for the post-summer daze. Sleeping is available for free on Schimpf’s bandcamp.
*on a boat on a river. With tangerine trees and marmalade skies? But I digress.