Daniel Menche's latest work is a bit daunting on paper: a three disc, three-plus hour work of 12 pieces, ranging between 10 and 25 minutes each. However, this is not the Menche of old, who was an adherent to that old school noise blast mentality that was so heavily the focus in the early days of the noise scene. Instead, there is rich variation and diversity on Sleeper, and the range of moods he creates is fitting the somnial implications of title, capturing the soundtrack to the most pleasant of dreams to the most terrifying of nightmares.
The initial most striking part of Sleeper is the complexity of the mixing and sound design that Menche pulls together.For someone usually associated with harsh noise, his ear for subtle development and varying frequencies is immediately apparent.This is not a new phenomenon:even Menche's harshest works were the product of devotion to sonic perfection.Right from the start of "Sleeper I," he constructs this massive, flickering wall that is imposing, yet comprised of glorious and regal sounding tones.Blended with a heavy undercurrent that gives a comfortable rumble, there is a lot of variation despite its monolithic structure.
The following piece keeps a thunderous pulse to it, but the overall sense is more elongated and expansive.The composition is slower and darker, with sinister electronic buzzing and metal percussion creating a tense, daunting atmosphere that builds up to a heavy crescendo and then stops nicely.Dark harshness also abounds on "Sleeper VIII," an instantaneous collage of distortion and low, rumbling feedback that in some ways calls back to his work from two decades prior.Loops that almost resemble old computer data cassettes buzz about and he brings it all together with an oddly light, ambient sound around the whole mess that builds to a chaotic, amazing conclusion.
Other moments of Sleeper feature Menche creating a backdrop for more pleasant dreams.For example, "Sleeper V" is a swirling mass of alien metallic tones and noises that never become too distorted.There is still a daunting depth to the sound, but it is a lighter sounding mood overall."Sleeper IV" stands out with Menche constructing the piece around a two-note organ pattern that, while he adds a healthy amount of noise to the piece, stays grounded in a more peaceful sensibility.Shimmering chime-like tones also envelope the less dynamic "Sleeper XI" that, even with a bit of rather heavy bass rumble is a pleasant sounding work.
The lengthy conclusion, "Sleeper XII," is the perfect culmination of the set.Over the nearly 26 minute work, Menche first blends heavy low end tones with less jarring ones, blending layer with layer to take on the entire sonic spectrum of possible sound.From there he does a push/pull strategy with the sound, alternating between lifting the piece up to heavenly beauty, then pulling down to frightening, hellish infernos.It is like an entire nights dreaming compiled together into a single bit of sound, with all the pleasantness and foreboding that can bring.
Even clocking in at over three hours, Sleeper is a consistently gripping piece of art.Never able to fall into the background, these 12 pieces command attention from beginning to end, and the images they conjure are amazing.¬†Daniel Menche has always been a rather prolific artist, but never has any of his works seem superfluous.Sleeper, is, however, a masterwork from an undisputed legend of noise.