Posted on November 12th, 2008 (4:34 pm) by Callum Underwood

From the first few seconds of the title track on Sleep Patterns, I knew this album was going to be something special. The airy, Conor Oberst-esque vocals (albeit, in key), the rhythmical power chords at the beginning, and the masterful use of dissonance all told me that this album was going to find itself played over and over in my house full of prog rock and indie-loving struggling musicians. The artistic statement explains that the album "deal[s] with the familiar themes of love, war and change", and we're thrown headfirst into a tune that seems to encompass all of these ideals, where it seems the instruments are warring against each other, and the simple (but apt) lyrics dealing with the other two.

It's obvious that these musicians know each other well, as mastering an album can only do so much. To achieve the well blended and syncopated sound that Colonies achieve, you have to spend countless hours sleeping on each others sofas, listening to different bands, getting hammered together, and often picking up the odd guitar to create tunes whenever the muse demands it. This is an incredibly well formed and mature album from a band that is one of the most exciting things to come under my radar this year.

Sleep Patterns is all about juxtaposition; the simple premise for the album demands it. One cannot deal with such themes as love, war and change, without having those very ideas present within the composition itself. Shumate's ethereal and haunting voice would normally seem out of place with the trashy, well timed drums and deep powerful chords from the electric guitar, but in this instance, all parts compliment each other in a way that artists have been trying to emulate since prog rock first appeared on the scene. Progressive rock has always been about juxtaposing the fast with the slow, the loud with the soft, and Colonies embrace this ethos to the fullest. Centoni on drums has a masterful understanding of rhythm, and constantly changes his beat to reflect the emotions within the lyrics.

To achieve the dissonant sound that tends toward the beautiful rather than the jarring is not easy, yet Colonies blend mashes of chords together with high pitched guitars and low power chords as if it's a completely normal and standard technique. I imagine many musicians will listen to this album thinking "I wish I had thought of that" over and over again.

The stadium-esque "Berlin! Berlin!’s" chorus flows in a way that’ll surely catch the listener’s attention. Those power chords, thrashy drums and screaming guitar with the emphatic singing from Shumate makes for an absolute crowd pleasing smasher of a track; I only wish it was twice as long. Straight after, we are treated to La Batalla De San Miguel, a song about the Argentinean city San Miguel. This is an intelligent masterpiece, which could not be the same without Centoni's presence on the drums, chopping and changing, he glues each movement of the track together. Shumate, once again showing his virtuoso knowledge of what style of singing he should employ, reminds me of Ian Brown in this track, singing about a city that has always featured prominently in the wars of days past.
The last track, Stevie Nixed, encompasses everything that Colonies threw into Sleep Patterns. The track is almost post rock with it's long drawn out chords and ghostly vocals which evokes thoughts of the desolation and despair one feels standing on a battlefield after the war is over. It is a perfect end to an album that has taken me on a trip through every emotion imaginable leaving me feeling absolutely satisfied.

I only wish I could listen to this album again for the first time to experience it with virgin ears because now I know what to expect, and it's no longer so much of surprise. This is an album that breaks the boundaries of progressive rock, touching on indie, post rock, drone, and shoegaze. One of the most intelligent and well written albums of 2008, this is a must listen for anyone who enjoys music that forces you to listen and appreciate it. I would compare Colonies to other bands, but I don't think it would do them justice. Colonies is an exciting band to seriously watch out for in the coming months as they record their follow-up.

1. Sleep Patterns
2. Floating Fast
3. Berlin! Berlin!
5. Tundra
6. Sing To Me
7. Stevie Nixed

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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