01. Sleeper’s Fate
02. Halls of Disintegration
03. Reservoir Dreamer
04. Lair of the Dormant Host
05. Flesh of a Ghost
06. Drowning with God
07. The Portals Evolve
Last year God Body Disconnect released their debut, Dredge Portals. Here was an artist, on their first delve into the world of dark ambient, taking everyone by storm. Musicians and listeners alike found Dredge Portals to be a riveting tale of a man trapped inside his own mind. Crisp field recordings, dreamy guitar drone and Hollywood worthy narration gave listeners a story in which they could become fully absorbed, if only for an hour of their time. As the weeks after release turned into months it became obvious that this experience extended well past the first listen. A year on and Dredge Portals is still drawing praise.
Sleeper’s Fate takes us back into the mind and narrative of Dredge Portals protagonist. We arrive on the scene just as the gun shot rings out. We hear the victim gasping for air as he chokes on his own blood. Police sirens are heard as they arrive on the scene. So we are getting a bit of a recap of the first album here in these first few minutes. Or, more so, a reminder of what went down that night on the streets of what I must imagine to be New York City. Bruce Moallem is back at it in full force. The narration is again, not only praiseworthy, but I can honestly say Hollywood worthy. As I described with Dredge Portals, his style of narrative and even his accent give a strong vibe of Good Fellas. With that being one of my favorite films of all time, the comparison does not come lightly. Nor does it really seem that he’s trying to directly mimic that style. It honestly sounds like this is the natural way for him to tell his tale.
While the theme and execution of Sleeper’s Fate are very similar to Dredge Portals, the biggest difference this time around seems to be in the depth of these field recordings. From the album blurb it seems that Moallem has either upgraded his field recording equipment, or just taken it into new territory. The promise of binaural field recordings is quickly proven to be noteworthy. While the first two tracks focus on drawing us into the narrative, “Reservoir Dreamer”, coming in at almost eight minutes length is the first track to fully absorb us. The brilliantly realized guitar drone-work is the perfect foundation for an impressive breadth of field recordings. The mind can truly run wild on this one. Faint voices echo off the walls, literally bouncing from ear to ear. Are we hearing children playing outside an open window of the hospital or are these the memories of our protagonist? The answer can be chosen by the individual listener, either direction taken proves to be part of a generally heartfelt and moving experience.
“Flesh of a Ghost” is another noteworthy track (among the many). We begin by hearing the beeps of a life monitor, which seems to be inside an elevator, before moving out into a crowded and noisy room. A hundred conversations happen at once, but the protagonist is a bystander, an observer from a distance. He might feel and hear the abundance of life in the room, but his part is only as the sleeper. Where this track really gets interesting is around the three minute mark when the post-rock influences show themselves more than at any other point before. The field recordings and sweeping bass drones never let up, but a pronounced drum beat comes front and center, with the guitars moving into their most traditional territory. With a post-rock delivery of this caliber, we should be thankful that Moallem is able to control his urges and bring us right back into the atmosphere of the rest of the album. A fully dedicated post-rock album with these sorts of moments would likely stand up as a worthy competitor to some of the best in that scene. But we are here for dark ambient, and to the dark ambient foundations “Flesh of a Ghost” returns as quickly and naturally as it departed.
“Drowning with God” features another moving vocal performance. Much like the closing chapters of Dredge Portals, “Drowning with God” gives us a sort of conclusion which still leaves plenty of room for individual interpretation. The sleeper thinks back to a lesson once learned from his father, having a bit of a somber revelation in the process. As we move into the last track, “The Portals Evolve” it seems that there could still be plenty of room to come back to this narrative once again, or it could be just as likely that this is the end of the story. The moment when the sleeper fully succumbs to his fate. As with any great cinematic dark ambient album, enough questions are answered to give us a well framed sense of direction, but there is still enough ambiguity to keep us second guessing our conclusions. Honestly, whether we believe we’ve discovered the truth to the narrative or not, there is enough musical talent here to draw us back into the mind of the sleeper many more times, if for nothing more than the atmosphere and precise execution.
God Body Disconnect proves once again that they are producing cinematic dark ambient of the highest order. There are really few narratives out there that hit the mark so profoundly in so many different ways. So now the narrative has doubled. The story has given us quite a bit more to experience and enjoy. Sleeper’s Fate takes none of the allure away from Dredge Portals, while simultaneously proving that another year within the dark ambient scene, meeting and learning from his fellow label-mates at Cryo Chamber, has driven his craft to new heights. By this time next year, its hard to tell what sort of masterpiece Moallem will have constructed.
Written by: Michael Barnett