Sleepy Sun Take Listeners Back Home Through an Epic Journey.
“Let a grander vision unfold,” advise Sleepy Sun to their listeners on their latest album, Private Tales. Although categorized as psychedelic rock, the band’s latest album shows nonchalant disregard for that genre. Going far beyond music industry labels, Sleepy Sun seek to play whatever feels right at the moment and stirs the emotions. That is, rather than trying to create something to fit into a predefined concept, they let the melodies and tunes coalesce on their own.
In an interview with Self-Titled Magazine, frontman Bret Constantino reflected, “Perhaps we’ve become better at allowing the song to unfold on its own as opposed to forcing too many changes within a single piece.” Letting the songs transpire on their own spontaneously, without any preconceived deliberations, narratives begin to form naturally. Soon, a whole epic unfolds before us. The tracks go beyond the technicalities of tunes, beats, sounds, etc., but reach deeper to connect with the listener’s subjective consciousness. They achieve something both internal and external, appealing to the inner complexities of the individual and elucidating the human condition. Sleepy Sun achieve such sensibility through the use and mixing of various musical sounds, whether from synthesized drone or mellow guitar stringing or guttural bass playing. Many of the songs appear stripped-down and mellow, seamlessly incorporating the different sounds into their lyrical narratives. The end results are placid and tranquil, sounds transcending the ears and comfortably absorbed by the hearts and minds.
The natural world is a recurring theme in Private Tales; scenic descriptions of nature lyrically exude from the tracks. Nature, the external world, the environment are key elements of a good epic. For example, the track “Seaquest,” both in its title and sounds, evokes the relaxed sensation of a warm afternoon breeze, softly blowing against gentle waves of transparent blue. Made so clear by the balmy sunlight, it reveals a vast underwater ecosystem. In “Throes,” the line “I just want to feel the sky fall forever, over and over again” points to the sublimity of one of nature’s largest and most perennial objects: the sky. It also alludes to a feeling of primordial mysticism. After all, in the book of Genesis, the uttered words “let there be an expanse in the midst of the water, and let it be a separation between water and water” lead to the creation of our celestial dome.
Just as nature often evokes a feeling of mysticism, an epic always contains elements of the spiritual and supernatural. In “Prodigal Vampire,” monk-like chanting starts the song. The chanting gives off an occult feeling, of some kind of ancient cult of supernatural beings performing a sacred ritual in the wilderness. The line “how I wish you sink into me, never mind the pain,” describes perverse desire for pain. But then it is such base and depraved urges that are fundamental, primal to humans. Social conventions have distanced humans from these instincts, so much so that when these desires do surface, they appear almost magical and spellbound.
These raw emotions are the latent forces propelling the heroes of epics. Odysseus’s love for his wife prompts his journey. Achilles’s rage over the death of his brother-in-arm spurs him to war. While much of these heroes seem to possess inhuman strengths, readers have gravitated towards them for ages not simply for their physical prowess but their very human responses to situations. Skillfully, Sleepy Sun echo these raw, overtly human emotions in their tracks.
Again, employing elements of mysticism to underscore the intensity of these emotions, the band artfully reveal the mundane as spiritual. In “Crave,” the line “I’ll be in the kitchen cooking up a spell for ya” describes desire so passionate that sorcery has to be invoked. Sleepy Sun show that, in a world bombarded by routines, chores and procedures, we only have to look inward to find the magic that has always been there and is inherently us.
“I’d like fans to listen to Private Tales in the car, on a long drive at night, not going too fast, on one of those winding roads like the ones you find in Texas lined by 200-year-old trees, and it’s warm outside and the windows are down,” Constantino added (in the same interview). Sceneries like that are mundane, and we encounter them daily. Yet how we internalize our surroundings and the emotions that are evoked are unique to each individual. Listening to Private Tales could change our perception. Suddenly, trees, cars, roads, roommates appear different. A spark of magic illuminates them, and, once again, the world becomes a place of wonder.