By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Brooklyn, N.Y. based Instrumental Trio SleapingDreaming released their debut album Victory Roses on Mar. 8, which features the song “Birds (Let Birds Feast On Your Dead Eyes)” and is available for CD and Digital editions on Bandcamp.
SleapingDreaming is composed of Brian Clemens (former session/touring drummer), John Loggins (bass) and Tim Porter (guitar).
To Porter, the admittedly morbid-sounding song title revolves around death. He himself experienced those of his dad and dog within a month of each other at the time the song was being written.
“I guess I’d characterize it as sort of a song about return to nature,” Porter said. “There’s this area in upstate New York where [my father] really sort of loved to go hiking so we basically kind of buried him up there with just a few rocks on top and it was specifically designed so that other creatures could sort of… use his body. That sounds really morbid but that’s really what it’s kind of about.”
The Victory Roses album name partly pays homage to the English translation from the name of an Icelandic band named Sigur Rós, who influenced them. Porter found this out in a conversation with a good friend who was a DJ, who also used the name Victory Rose. It was then decided that this would be a good theme for the debut album.
“It also sort of follows the previous EP that we did [that] had a rose on the cover and so it did kind of follow on that theme,” Porter said. “The reason for the plural is because a single rose I think is a little bit more of a romantic gesture, whereas roses plural, is a little bit more ambiguous. You can have roses at a wedding. You can have roses at a funeral and so it can be a symbol of a lot of different things.”
Their specialty is layered, noisy, dense music with occasional vocals over hypnotic, dreamy soundscapes. Heavily influenced by post-rock, shoegaze and downtempo trip-hop, the biggest challenge for instrumental bands is to make the music interesting without words to invoke emotion on what the song is about. Every little decision made in terms of amps, pedals, guitars and other instruments serve as individual building blocks.
“It’s a really long, multi-factored equation and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, so there’s a lot of experimentation that goes into coming up with a sound that we all like that’s turned into a sequence of notes that we all like that’s been harmonized with a bunch of other sequence of notes that we all like,” expressed Porter with a chuckle.
They started as an informal side-project focused on experimentation with sound and texture. It originally constituted three members without specific instrument assignments or set goals. Over time, the band became more defined once Clemens was on drums/electronics while Porter generated a lot of guitar-oriented sounds. They became a two-piece in mid-2016 once the third member didn’t want to continue as a formal band when they began to play shows.
The band wanted a layered live experience with a heavy reliance on pre-recorded loops and electronic noise integration. This slowly became the basis for their overall sound. However, this also caused a limitation.
“We’re doing things a little bit differently [than other bands] and we’re relying on a lot of things all working as they’re supposed to and when you have one point of failure, sometimes that really creates a lot of cascading other failures,” said Porter. “For instance, we did a show where we trigger one loop and it’s supposed to come on at 100 beats per minute. The drummer who was triggering it forgot to switch the tempo back down because we were just playing a song at 150 beats per minute, so this loop comes on and it’s like, super fast and we’re all looking at each other like ‘What the fuck do we do now?’ and we still played the song, but it was a total catastrophe.”
Eventually, the band brought Loggins in to focus on the low-end as a bassist in mid-2017 and they changed their name from Sleaphing/Dreaming to SleapingDreaming. Afterwards, they took on a more traditional feel and structured music in the form of post-rock and post-metal, deriving heavy influence from shoegaze. Generally, their music moves slow and is defined by hypnotic evolutions, layering and density.
“You know how like when you watch a good movie, you kind of feel a lot of things? It’s like there are times when you got this really great triumphant feeling, other times when you’re like so fuckin’ sad or so depressed,” Porter said. “I guess we’re trying to do a little bit of that where we’re trying to take people on kind of a multi-emotional journey where in some cases, it’s melancholic and a little bit more sort of heavy and in other aspects, are a little bit more sort of triumphant, [a] little bit more positive. People have accused us of being a little bit on the sadder side and a little darker, but we’re trying to stay neutral.”