Audio/Visual Premiere: 夢遊病者 – “Silesian Fur Coat”

The music of the Japanese/Russian/American collective known as 夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) have been using their music to search out the nexus between cognitive memory and the subconscious since their debut demo (統​合​失​調​症​の​飢​餓) and subsequent first studio effort, 5772. Since then, their music has moved further and further away from the loose connections it had with black metal in the early days. More richly integrated layers worked their way in, the already distant musical backbone shattering like an erupting neuron until only the rituality remained.

In finding this most essential element of the trio, the band accomplished from the start what so many black metal bands cloned from others’ sounds, others’ practices, and others’ paths only claim to be purveying: broke free of constriction. There is an increasing clarity that continues to reveal itself across each release. The more 夢遊病者 continue down their path of sonic alchemy, the more they bathe in the rivers of instinct. The result is a craft of beautiful soundscapes born of memory, rife with tension and release, fluctuating emotions shifting both fluidly and on a whim as they weave these dense but digestible works.

If the sample track from their upcoming Skopofoboexoskelett album is any indication, 夢遊病者 are loosening their grip even more. “Silesian Fur Coat” is surprisingly minimalist in comparison to the group’s preceding effort. There are still boundless layers of instrumentation. The warbling cries of the steel guitar and light plucking of a mandolin usher in thoughts of bluegrass, though it’s far from the barbaric practice of shoehorning genre tropes. It bends to the hypnotic rhythm, moving down the stream of consciousness like a feeling or a memory. Still, even the song’s peak feels stripped down for 夢遊病者’s usual style–the instruments are giving each other way more room to breathe in an inspired focus on clarity.

However, “Silesian Fur Coat” feels undeniably like 夢遊病者. The atmosphere, the percussive choices and rhythmic patterns, the use of certain Middle Eastern progressions and familiar licks–it’s like we’ve been here before. But it certainly didn’t feel like this then, now did it? Is it really the same, then?

Another new element for the band, and perhaps adding to the gorgeous interpretation of clarity/confusion, is the visual aspect of the song. Photochemical film is, in itself, a form of alchemy in making the invisible image visible, the unseeable scene. Naturally, the film accompaniment is molded to 夢遊病者’s process. Gorgeous shots focusing themes of symmetry, perspective, movement, nature, fire flow across the screen like dreamscaped memories. Sometimes they’re accurate, other times they’re warped and twisted to conform to the music. Much like the music, the visual aspect doesn’t seek to be understood so much as felt–maybe the thoughts themselves aren’t as important–or relatable–as the feelings they evoke. Maybe all that really matters is connecting with the empathetic beauty in it all.

Skopofoboexoskelett releases August 4th, 2023 and is now available for preorder on the Sentient Ruin website and Bandcamp page.

Posted by Ryan Tysinger

I listen to music, then I write about it. On Twitter @d00mfr0gg (Outro: The Winds Of Mayhem)

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