SLEEP ∞ OVER - Forever (2011)

Sleep ∞ Over's debut full-length officially drops September 27th, more than a year after the band began accumulating buzz with the release of phantasmagoric haunters "Outer Limits" and "Your World Is Night". Pitchfork described them as "what Beach House might sound like if they played in a graveyard," which sounded about right at the time. Then, before recording began on the album that would become Forever, members Sarah Brown and Christa Palazzolo left to form Boy Friend, leaving Stefanie Franciotti the lone remaining member of Sleep ∞ Over. Hence the delay.

So the songs on Forever are the work of Franciotti alone; thankfully, they retain the devastating sumptuousness of Sleep ∞ Over's earlier work, and the album as a whole suffers nary a whit for Franciotti's clarity of vision. Layers and layers of droning synth and diffused guitar melodies unfurl over blown-out hi-hat and booming toms, while Franciotti's ethereal vocals dance in the murk like a wraith. The overall sound is oppressively lush, simultaneously beautiful and menacing a la Cocteau Twins.

The album begins with the warbling, spaced-out instrumental "Behind Closed Doors", which leads into "Romantic Streams", quite possibly Sleep ∞ Over's best track. A spectral synth melody surges over heavy, synthetic drums before Franciotti's ghostly vocals soar in like transmissions from the other side of recognizable natural existence. "The Heavens Turn By Themselves" is an appropriately-named slow burner, awash in widescreen synthesizer whooshes and held together by a mechanized, tribal-sounding drumbeat. Like the best Sleep ∞ Over songs, this one seems to build in ecstatic slow motion before releasing with all the epic grandeur of an interstellar collision. You know how in movies when a character goes to outer space, there's almost always a scene in which said character gazes back at Earth from the icy black depths, wide-eyed and teary with beatific disbelief? Sleep ∞ Over's music could soundtrack that moment.

The aching heart "Casual Diamond" is slightly more earthbound - it could be a blissful make-out jam - while "Crying Game" is an eerie soundscape of whorls and whirrs crescendoing into a psychedelic vortex. Of course there's a song called "Flying Saucers Are Real", which sounds like a torch song for a lunar tribe. Forever concludes with "Don't Poison Everything", during which Franciotti sounds disarmingly like Beach House's Victoria Legrand. It's the perfect ending to the album, a beautiful, billowing catharsis. The song reaches its zenith in a peaking blast of frazzled synth and vocals; it's a cataclysmic blowout. We have arrived at our distant planet. Or we've died and are now ascending to Heaven.

Live, Sleep ∞ Over's been performing as Franciotti with Silent Diane (and ex-Belaire) members Christine Aprile and Eli Welbourne, along with Jace Jenkins from Pure X, an Austin dream team lineup.

Album art: 
Release date: 

1. Behind Closed Doors
2. Romantic Streams
3. Porcelain Hands
4. The Heavens Turn By Themselves
5. Casual Diamond
6. Crying Game
7. Flying Saucers Are Real
8. Stickers
9. Untitled
10. Don’t Poison Everything

Music label: 
Hippos in Tanks
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