Norwegian band Sleepyard’s latest album Head Values comes out this 26 May. You will be hard-pressed to find a more peaceful, relaxing, beautiful record in these difficult times. Sleepyard has been around since 1994 and is Oliver and Svein Kersbergen. On Head Values, they get help from the incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist Katje Janisch and Gaute Storsve on guitar. Length-wise, the album’s in that in-between zone between an EP and a short album. Let me put it this way: I’ve heard plenty of albums that are too long, but most in this 30-35 minute range seem all the better for their brevity and conciseness, and Head Values proves the point again. It’s like a pleasant, vivid dream that’s over before you know it.
Gentle reader, you have been forewarned. Once you drop the needle on Head Values, you won’t want to pause or stop till it’s over, such is the power of its ethereal beauty. And by its end, you will be so blissed out, you’ll have been transported to another place. You won’t need a hot tub, you won’t need a drink, you won’t need a walk in the woods or along the beach, though I suppose any of those things would help. Nothing will be able to ruin your day, nothing my friend.
Starting with “Peace Voyage,” (see what I mean?), the lovely melody is boosted by gifted guest Katje Janisch’s flute, violin and dreamy vocals. The song is a whiff of ambrosia to draw you in to Sleepyard’s world. On Head Values, the Kersbergens seamlessly blend pianos, guitars, stringed instruments, real or sampled harmoniums and accordions, with synths and electro-atmospherics for a heady, intoxicating brew. Some songs are brief impressionistic thought-pieces, not really beginning or ending.
Most of Head Values is instrumental, but another notable exception is the delightful “Falling in Love.” Featuring The Free Design’s Sandy Dedrick, the song’s been in the works for a couple of years, and is achingly beautiful, just like falling in love itself. Don’t expect The Free Design’s bouncy jazzy sound. But you will get another hallmark, Sandy’s unmistakable voice, with layered overdubbed vocals floating on billowy clouds.
The rest of the album continues the calming journey. Sometimes spacy, sometimes down to earth, sometimes eerie, it’s always gentle. The pretty piano and Mellotron-based “Theme From Slow Earth” actually reminds me a lot of the beginning of Supertramp’s “Fool’s Overture” (but is better).
The brief end coda “Holy Day (Revisited)” is another synth-based impressionistic piece, and it and the album fade to sounds of the ocean’s surf, a sonic incarnation of the LP cover art presenting the sea from a great height.
Head Values is Sleepyard’s tonic to our modern stresses. Its dreamy chapters allow the listener to step back, take a deep breath and soak it all in. Well worth your time.
releases March 26, 2021
Oliver Kersbergen - Guitar, Keyboard, Vocals, Bass, Sitar, Harmonica, Field Recordings
Svein Kersbergen - Keyboards, piano, Vocals
Sandy Dedrick - Vocals on Falling In Love
Mark Refoy - Guitar and Beats on Dream Solution
Katje Janisch - Vocals, flute, cello, Melodica, Bowed Glock & Dvoyanka
Gaute Storsve - Pedal Steel Guitar, Bass
Edvard Andreas Feed - Guitar on Four Nails
Produced by Oliver Kersbergen at Intersounds Studios
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