Album Review: Team Sleep – Woodstock Sessions

Album Review: Team Sleep – Woodstock Sessions

imageIt may be a slightly facetious or naive statement to make, but the majority of Chino Moreno’s side projects sound, in some way, shape or form, like Deftones. Team Sleep is no different, with the onus being on the more experimental, esoteric elements of Deftones’ sound. That’s what makes up the body of ‘Woodstock Sessions’, a collection of reworked older material and re-recorded demos, all taking place in one two-day session with a live audience present for the whole process. The result is nine tracks that are a skilful demonstration of intensity and pressure, uncomfortable yet enthralling in equal measure.

The resulting product provided by Team Sleep on ‘Woodstock Sessions’ is atmosphere, be that mesmerising (’(Ever) Foreign Flag’) or crushingly powerful (‘O.P.’). It’s the interweaving of each element that achieves this – Moreno’s hauntingly mercurial croons add to the ethereal nature, with the understated vocal samples from turntablist DJ Crook keeps everything firmly in the left field. Rubber-limbed Hella drummer Zach Hill may be absent for this release, but his slot is efficiently filled by Stolen Babies sticksman Gil Sharone – clattering avalanches of drumbeats are still present and correct, such as on tumultuous opener ‘Your Skull Is Red’. It’s each member’s near masterful contribution that makes ‘Woodstock Sessions’ as well-constructed and intricately impressive as it is.

However impressive it is though, there’s an incredibly slim chance that Team Sleep will be embraced by the mainstream in the way that Deftones have – they’re unlikely to get daytime radio play or a main stage slot at Reading. And that’s all because of its unfriendliness to new listeners. Its shtick of Melvins covered by Russian Circles is unlikely to have the mainstream fawning, as is its air of unpredictability and uncomfortability. It’s simply too weird for most, the likes of the crescendoing eight-minute closer ‘Live From The Stage’ being the prime example, resplendent with bouts of near silence and uneasy pregnant pauses.

Nevertheless, ‘Woodstock Sessions’ is nothing if not an expert display of these six musicians’ skills. Radio unfriendly and spasmodically heavy it may be, but its atmospheric meanderings are as bewitching as they come. Usually releases like this can be hastily thrown together, but Team Sleep have crafted a cohesive, interesting album that almost fully lives up to the pedigree of its members.

3.5/5

‘Woodstock Sessions’ by Team Sleep is out now on Woodstock Sessions .

Team Sleep links: Website|Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Luke Nuttall(@nuttall_luke)