Thursday, January 8, 2009
Alt Ctrl Sleep - Alt Ctrl Sleep (SCQ Detox 2 of 2)
SCQ Rating: 72%
This past November, while living in limbo at my parent’s house, I undertook hour-long searches for new music I may have missed while overseas. The house was fast asleep as I’d fight off my musical-jetlag at 4am with a glass of wine and several band-names I sought to uncover. Possibly the best of these finds is Alt-Ctrl-Sleep, a record I’ve yet to find in physical format that in soft reverberation and lo-fi ambience kept me company those quiet nights.
The duo, comprised of husband and wife Joe and April Diaco, create stunning dream-pop as languid and fragile as windshield frost. Splitting vocal duties evenly over these sixteen tracks, their numb voices sound shut-in, withdrawn from natural light and soaked in lovesick effects. If ‘You Alone’ and ‘Take Care’ evoke the acoustic slow-core of Mazzy Star, ‘In the End’, with its live-drum pulse and easy strums, is accomplishedly theirs; one of several tracks that start by exercising their indie-heroes’ trademarks before rising above into their own sound. This mature mark on lo-fi pop is also heard in the hazy aftermath of ‘Ones and Zeros’, the bittersweet keys of ‘Kandy’ and ‘Satellites (Venus to Mars)’ – a concoction of skittering drums and confident chords that sound epic compared to the album’s unassuming tip-toeing.
An album of such lush slow-core is bound to get monotonous, and while fifty-one minutes of fuzzy balladry will send most screaming for something upbeat, this duo have crafted an elegant mood piece for those who need it. Although sixteen tracks of tepid dream-pop is a bit indulgent (‘Ho-Hum Song’ definitely pushes it), Alt-Ctrl-Sleep sequence it well with a few instrumental segues (the electronic ‘Catching Up To You’ or twinkling lullaby ‘Sleep’) scattered to ensure fluent pacing. That said, Alt-Ctrl-Sleep remains a very low-key album that is best saved for nights alone or quiet bus rides.