Published Feb 22, 2017There are moments in Karsten Pflum's Sleep Concert that are genuinely lovely; there are also one or two that are mind-numbingly linear. We can forgive the Danish sound artist this unevenness, though, given the scope of the project. It's no small thing to pull off a composition meant to guide its listeners through a full night's sleep.
Does it work? Does the recording contribute to a good night's rest? Answering those questions would require a far larger sample size. In the meantime, we can report that Pflum's new work is not at all unpleasant. It's nice to fall asleep to; a gentle wakeup; and it probably won't bug you much in between.
Your night will begin with "Part 1 Prologue (a tale about gnomes)." Its first 10 minutes deliver an inoffensive wash of synthesizer pleasantness. It's a bit like falling asleep to the Blade Runner soundtrack, which isn't a bad thing even if it's hardly groundbreaking in 2017. The piece gets more interesting after that with gentle percussion and other surprises. It's worth staying up for.
"Part 3 Disconnection," a rich, varied soundscape, may be the work's highlight. If gamers had more adventurous taste, this would make a killer Minecraft soundtrack. Imagine a high-end field recording of a thunderstorm, except that all of its sources are electronic. The contrast is striking.
Unfortunately, for every highlight there is a long, drawn-out lowlight. "Part 8 Reincarnate" is particularly tough to get through, the sound of a drone falling from a very great height and in very slow motion. There isn't much else to it, save for a bit of mysterious spoken word low in the mix.
Sleep Concert is clearly a major work, and its composer deserves credit for aiming so high. There may not be eight-plus hours of great music here, but there are more than a few impressive moments. (Hymen Records)