Sleep Party People Returns With New Album
Lingering – Released June 2 2017
Sleep Party People will return with new album Lingering, due out June 2 2017 through Joyful Noise Recordings. Written, recorded, produced and performed entirely by Danish multi-instrumentalist Brian Batz, Lingering – which features collaborations with The Antlers’ Peter Silberman & Air vocalist Beth Hirsch – is Sleep Party People’s fourth studio album, and the first release since 2014’s Floating.
Though Copenhagen-based Batz & his 5-piece live band have become synonymous with the rabbit masks they wear during Sleep Party People live performances, Lingering finds Batz shedding his guard to create some of the most personal and accessible material of his career. Nowhere is this more evident than on euphoric lead single ‘The Missing Steps’, the first advance track to emerge from Lingering. Freighted by a pacy, fuzzed-up drum beat – playfully liberated by Batz from his highlight on Revolver, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ – the single finds Batz channelling classic Sleep Party People uplift. Here, a fragile love song is elevated to super-sized proportions, buoyed by a DIY Danish gospel choir, comprised of fellow Copenhagen artists including Irah, CODY, Hymns From Nineveh, Disa and Luster.
You can watch the video for lead single ‘The Missing Steps’ via Cool Hunting
Whilst other moments on Lingering engage demonstrably with bliss (see also the woozy, unhurried not-quite title track, ‘Lingering Eyes’), it is also a record concerned with anxiety and doubt, and the ways in which those insecurities can persist through adulthood. On ‘Fainting Spell’, the crisp drumming of Ice Cream Cathedral’s Anders Bach (who plays throughout Lingering) and bursts of crunch guitar mask Batz’s meditation on a childhood shyness so acute that school debates would induce vertigo. “I almost fainted every time I had to walk up to the blackboard and speak in front of everyone, because I was so terrified to fail or not deliver what was expected of me”. Elsewhere, propelled by off-beat drumming and bursts of dissonance, ‘Figures’ finds Batz recollecting a fearful childhood spent in a haunted house, living with his father on the remote Danish island of Bornholm.
The anxious preoccupations which – however unwelcome- can continue to permeate adulthood, dominate on the self-effacing ‘Limitations’. Here Batz straps an examination of his own anxious tics (‘Nervous from an early age / Stomach ache and a fleeing mind. Peeling skin off from both hands was comforting and necessary’) to a wonky, offbeat drum beat loop and slow-phasing synths, which bleed together to disorienting effect. Tapping a more universal unease, the outwardly delicate ‘Odd Forms’ in fact addresses that morbid, mortal fear familiar to all who’ve experienced hospital visiting hours.
For all that it trades in existential worries, Lingering is nonetheless very much a product of its time. Batz wrote the scathing ‘The Sun Will Open Its Core’ at the height of Denmark’s controversial debates over recent refugee policies. “I felt extremely indignant in terms of how society dealt with this problem. I saw an extreme ego rise around me and that just made me sad. I don’t get how people can reject human beings who are fleeing from their destroyed homes and cities. We should be able to help each other even if we don’t agree on religion, politics or what we eat and wear. I had to write a song about this. Period.”
A personal high-water mark for Batz from Lingering is the appearance of Air-collaborator Beth Hirsch, who guests on ‘We Are There Together’. A longstanding fan of Air’s classic album Moon Safari, he was left tongue-tied when Hirsch contacted him out of the blue, seeking out a collaboration; “This was the beginning of a very enriching process, where she would send me a sketch recorded on her iPhone, and then I interpreted her song and started recording the whole thing myself. This was just one of those moments where you pinch yourself, because it was so surreal to write this song along with her”.
Whilst Lingering is enriched by several such artistic collaborations – with The Antlers’ Peter Silberman also providing choir arrangements on ‘Dissensions’ – it is equally shaped by Batz’s famously eccentric collection of instruments. The fast-paced, burbling ‘Salix And His Soil’ came about when a sleep-deprived Batz took delivery of an old organ at his studio; “When I turned the organ on for the first time, it started playing this crazy fast Super Mario Brothers-ish beat and loop by itself. I got hooked straight away and started jamming along, and in four hours I wrote the entire song”. Meanwhile ‘Fainting Spell’ rests entirely on a piano loop played out on the snapped wires of his battered old studio piano; “I’ve always had a weakness for broken instruments. They can give you something unexpected and eventually something useful”.
Through the ambient strains of gauzy album-closer ‘Vivid Dream’, the lyrics of a self-excoriating Batz recognise ‘Beating down my own door. Aiming to be flawless and without any mistakes. What a day that would be. Never will be’. Whilst a personal sense of ease & acceptance may yet be a work in progress, in Lingering, Sleep Party People has created a collateral product of startling beauty.