Based in New York City and Monterrey, Mexico is sleep.shy, a group composed of Gabriel Lit, Brian Ferrell, Joseph Isho Levinson, Saeryenne and Ariel Weissberger, produced by Oscar Zambrano (the latter two Berklee grads) and also featuring the Girly Girl Choir.Galapagos Inn, the band’s first album, boasts 11 eclectic tracks, each defined by sleep.shy’s reluctance to pigeonhole itself into one stifling genre.
When writing a CD review, a simple technique that eases deadlines and quells readers’ uncertainties is to compare the band in question to other artists; especially useful if the featured band employs infinite subtle technical nuances and progressive electronic techniques, which can be hard to define. Only slightly reminiscent of the Sea and Cake, Tori Amos, Minus the Bear and Sufjan Stevens, sleep.shy formulates its own signature sound by injecting each track with a unique personality but without losing the collective cohesiveness of Galapagos Inn.
The first track, “I Nowhere I Am,” opens with textured electronic sequences and soon introduces the listener to Saeryenne’s lead birdsong vocals. Over a minute in, and choral chants transition to a different melody, begun by a harpsichord solo, then soon reunited with Saeryenne’s aria.
“Buzz” proves sleep.shy’s range of talent and the band’s ability to harness a serious level of skill by showcasing its experimental side. The track features a percussive counterpoint to the choral harmonies, reminiscent of those avant-garde improv performances at Piano Factory. The next track, “On Why No. 2 Pencils Have Erasers,” returns to a joie de vivre expressionism. On this electrified anthem, Saeryenne sings about “the lingering static dancing on our graves”, and the choral harmonies already defined as the band’s signature are present throughout. The song shifts &-&- a tendency noticeable throughout Galapagos Inn &-&- to a military cadence-turned-a cappella ending.
“Orange Day” is the centerpiece of Galapagos Inn, with an unfinished haiku as its only lyrics. However, the song’s two minutes and forty seconds (making it shortest track on the record) are the closest the album comes to epitomizing sleep.shy; they feature both obvious and subtle shifts in tempo and mood, the singer’s dreamy cooing and the climactic crescendo which tapers off at the last few seconds of the piece.
“Jungle on the Ceiling” features Weissberger’s rumbling vocals, heavily laced with the singer’s native Mexican accent. Jazz piano segments meet pulsating percussion in a vague reminder of a latin-tinged Serge Gainsbourg piece.
Although sleep.shy’s sound evokes comparison to some favorite, more familiar musicians, the band quickly shakes off any true similarities with its trademark transitions, paramount choral harmonies and instrumental aptitude.