'Melatonin' CD compilation by ::Room40:: Australia

Various Artists 2 x CD
::Room40::
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Press Release:

Melatonin – Meditations on sound in sleep.
During sleep, a process controlled in part by the body's use of the chemical Melatonin, our brain functions in a markedly different fashion to our waking life. As an example, reading is noted by many sleep researchers to be a quite unusual process, whereby words simply fall off the page, their graphical meaning abstracted as various sections of the brain recline into states of rest. Something similar is true for sounds we hear generated within dreams. The way in which incidental atmospheres complement, interrupt or interfere with our sleep suggests a new set of understandings. It is these concepts that are explored here in a deeply personal and reflective manner. [Lawrence English Oct 2003]

Track listing 2 x CD
Featuring new works from Chris Watson, Stephen Vitiello, AI Yamamoto, Oren Ambarchi, DJ Olive, Lawrence English, Pimmon, Marina Rosenfeld, Skist, Timeblind, DJ/rupture, John Chantler, Scanner, Zane Trow, David Toop, Steinbruchel, Philip Samartzis, Barrett, Musgrove, Sinclair, Martin Ng, Tetuzi Akiyama, Frost, Gail Priest, Tim Koch and Janek Schaefer [my track is Love Song]

Reviews:


Brainwashed [US]
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The Room 40 crew has amassed an impressive list of names for this two-disc set billed as "meditations on sound in sleep," and the prospect of new tracks from Oren Ambarchi, DJ Olive, DJ/Rupture, Scanner, David Toop, and Janek Schaefer ought to be enough to sell the disc on its own. Really everyone here brings it, with solid tracks from lesser-known artists that are equally impressive and often more inventive than those from their well-known counterparts. The theme is broad enough as to allow a wide range of interpretations without dictating any particular mode of composition. The two basic approaches to the idea seem to be physiological—that of capturing or recreating sound as heard through the muffled filter of sleep, and psychological—that of playing with the noises and music of dream states and the subconscious. There are the expected slow, sleepy drones and dreamy chimes (Al Yamamoto, Steinbrüchel, Zane Trow, Barret, Musgrove & Sinclair), but the project also offers some more out-there takes as well, such as Skist's shrill whine accompanied by non-sequitur female vocals, Timeblind's ridiculously time-stretched speech, and David Toop's spooky dream narration. John Chantler starts disc two off with a delightfully fun recording of his microwave that transforms into a cheeky beep-beat before giving way to drums and guitar: not something I would have expected on a disc devoted to experimental musicians composing tracks about sleeping sounds. Philip Samartzis turns in a location recording, while Martin Ng & Tetuzi Akiyama give us the obligatory microtonal sine wave ear workout. If i never hear a piercing sine wave composition again, it'll be okay with me. Scanner gives up a synth-heavy piece with some instructional voice-over through delay that recalls his Spore-era work, while Frost plays with fuzzy dream guitar and simple piano figures that are understated and beautiful. DJ/Rupture takes the path least travelled by producing a mix of beats and samples that implies that what he hears while sleeping are the muffled, fractured pieces of his record collection banging together into a mix. In the realm of experimental music, these kinds of collections too often offer artists a chance to pad an already overstuffed discography with throw-away pieces and under-realized mixes. Not so, here. Room 40 manages to wrangle up some top talent at the top of their game for an engaging and repeatable listen. - Matthew Jeanes


Igloo Magazine [US]
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This is a whopper! Based on the meditations of sounds in sleep, it’s almost too multifarious to say some about. It makes me feel embarrassedly biased with such a well curated selection of artists from Janek Schaefer and Chris Watson to Scanner and David Toop. Dark late night owls and crickets, toys and gentle fairy tale harmonies, ethereal drifting oceanscapes --I just want to listen and relax and not dissect it all. I suggest you get yourself a copy and do the same. Pimmon does a lovely thing called “Elion” proving that he can make sounds that are just a tad less funky for a minute (please don’t stop!). “Arm Dormant” is a short by Marina Rosenfeld that prepares your R.E.M. for RAM in a live feed video-cam meets rusty see-saw in the still of the night. And Timeblind harnesses the wide ocean balancing its greatness with a scribbly sense of awe. Zane Trow’s “Night Bell” uses a Fairlight sounding synth that plays like a covert SOS pattern. Steinbruchel brings “Feder” which is more like the moment when shades of light become shades of dark as the moon elipses into night. It’s a big task, but anything can be done in slumber. Included here are also Martin Ng, Gail Priest, DJ Olive, Philip Samartzis and many others. Lawrence English has pulled something off that needs to find a forum to be repeated, or at least archived. Sacrifice your shuteye for a night soon, but know that I want the recipe. TJN


Stylus Magazine [Canada}
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hen he created the three “Sleep” tracks for 1995’s Apart, little did Paul Schütze know that he’d be initiating a new genre. Tigerbeat6 recently revisited it with the superb Goodnight: Music To Sleep By, 130 minutes of meditative electronica from artists like kid606, Stephan Mathieu, and Tim Hecker, and now Australia’s room40 adds its own spin with Melatonin – Meditations On Sound In Sleep. Interestingly, Pimmon and Oren Ambarchi appear on both collections, but it’s surprising there’s not more artist overlap between them, given the shared theme. Melatonin, however, isn’t merely a two-disc compilation. It’s also a listening installation curated by Lawrence English for the Bus Gallery in Melbourne. And the name? Here’s English’s explanation: “During sleep, a process controlled in part by the body’s use of the chemical Melatonin, the brain functions in a markedly different fashion compared to waking life. As an example, reading is noted by many sleep researchers to be a quite unusual process, whereby words simply fall off the page, their graphical meaning abstracted as various sections of the brain recline into states of rest. Something similar is true for sounds we hear generated within dreams. The way in which incidental atmospheres complement, interrupt, or interfere with our sleep suggests a new set of understandings. It is these concepts that are explored here in a deeply personal and reflective manner.”
Of the twenty-three tracks spread across two discs, many are standouts including Chris Watson’s “Warrigal Night,” a field recording whose exotic cries, grunts, whistles, and calls ring out against ringing thrum and thunderous rumbles. Not surprisingly, “Elion,” an ambient textured drone from Pimmon, impresses, as does “Arm Dormant,” Marina Rosenfeld’s sound collage of bowed string scrapings and vinyl crackles. Oren Ambarchi sets aside his guitar to instead evoke Eno with moody electric piano sprinkles and quiet ripples on “Stormy Weather Part 2.” Another ambient piano-based effort, Ben Frost’s “Svartifoss,” pairs a melancholy piano motif with evocative electronics to lovely effect and, in Gail Priest’s haunting “Lullaby: 3am Anxiety Mix,” a distant, bird-like motif calls out from within a dense, floating cloud of ambience. Scanner provides some hypnotic electronica with the muffled piano notes, portentous bass flutter, and echoing voices of “Melting into Moonlight,” while Janek Schaefer’s “Love Song” ends the set memorably as female voices chant “Love” until their varying pitches reach a state of droning dissonance.
Other tracks, like those by Ai Yamamoto and Philip Samartzis, while credible enough examples of drone and field recording genres, aren’t as memorable. Admittedly, this is, to some degree, because of the nature of the genres themselves. To criticize Stephen Vitiello’s “Dorm Ant (Forest)” for being less memorable, for instance, seems misguided when its ambient wavering tones are deliberately conceived with the Melatonin theme in mind.
Although dissimilar in obvious ways, Melatonin – Meditations On Sound In Sleep is reminiscent of the recent 12k-Line compilation Two Point Two as well as Goodnight: Music To Sleep By. All are long, in the two-hour vicinity, emphasize electronic, ambient, and drone pieces, and demand deeply absorbed listening to be fully appreciated. It’s worth noting that Melatonin acquires greater force cumulatively, as a piece heard in isolation impresses less than when heard in the context of the full set. To some degree that can be explained by the fact that one gradually becomes attuned to the glacial, meditative pace the longer one is exposed to it, as one’s experience of time is re-calibrated.