Here at Heavy Blog, we’ve been quite vocally critical of musical crowdfunding. More often than not, the campaigns seem to stretch into infinity, forever unfulfilled. However, the basic concepts of fan supporting their beloved artists directly is one which we find highly appealing, seeing as how we’re fans who’d love to do that as well. Thus, it’s always refreshing to see an example of a crowdfunding campaign done right and, what’s more, one which produces an incredible album. Such is the case with sleepmakeswaves and their latest release, Made of Breath Only. This marvelous piece of high tempo post rock, bursting with the joie de vivre we’ve come to expect from these Australians, was successfully made possible by fans of the band (this writer included) and feels inherently made for them.
As the basis of Made of Breath Only, sleepmakeswaves have placed their uniquely high octane version of post rock. Akin to their often-compared brethren at 65daysofstatic their approach to post rock is one of intense riffs, constantly unfurling groove sections and dream-y, delay ridden passages as the form of contrast. However, this is only where this album begins. It ends up being sleepmakeswaves most “muscular” release, filled with bass tones and distortion ideas unparalleled in their discography. It would be wrong to derive aggression per se from this description; the secret of Made of Breath Only lies not in being more violent but in being more robust, more present.
If you think about it in the context of the band’s history, it’s a brilliant closing stroke of an already accomplished piece of calligraphy. This sort of presence has always been the trademark of the band but here, it is magnified and brought into full fruition. One possible source of this flourish is the addition of one Nick DiDia, an acclaimed producer whose worked with names like Mastodon, Karnivool, Rage Against the Machine and, indeed, sleepmakeswaves themselves, on their previous release Love of Cartography among many, many others (no, seriously. Many others). However, unlike the previous album, it seems his approach to the band’s music was either given full rein by members of the band this time around or had simply changed following their and his common ideas on where they should go next.
Whichever the case, the change is decidedly remarkable. The bass is much thicker and more pronounced, the guitars are punchier and the drums are more audible than ever before; you can listen to “The Edge of Everything” if you’d like some proof. It’s groovy bridges and leads are bass-resplendent, thickly enriched by the more “forward” presence of the lower end. The composition has moved to follow suit as well, driving the point home that no album is made great just by virtue of production alone. A band must know how to capitalize on that production and that’s exactly what makes Made of Breath Only so good. sleepmakeswaves adjusted to fit this new sound, writing music that best benefits from this kind of sound.
Whether the composition’s ideas or the production design came first is irrelevant. Indeed, it’s safe to believe that they came to life together, benefiting from each other. However, regardless of chronological order, the marriage of the two gives us tracks like “Tundra” or “Midnight Sun” or the aforementioned “The Edge of Everything”, where characteristic sleepmakeswaves synth and guitar lines clash with the larger-than-life approach to the groove section’s sound, creating music that is both immediately familiar to fans of the band and yet, immensely exciting in its punch and delivery. As a result, this release continues to solidify sleepmakeswaves as one of the premiere bands that post rock has to offer and, indeed, one of the strongest beacons of hope for the genre.