Music is ultimately a form of communication, from the artist to the audience. Audio:sleep wants to communicate on a profound level. They ask their listeners to immerse themselves in a sonic landscape where there is no direct narrative, where mood and emotion are illustrated by intricate textures, smooth transitions and even the spaces between the sounds. Audio:sleep has the lofty goal of creating a partnership with the listener, where each has a contribution to make to the content of this debut album, Chloe.
Friends from school, Pat, Trevor and Chris spent their free time listening to music and going to concerts together. It was inevitable that, some 15 years ago, they should pick up instruments and learn their craft in each other’s basements. In that time, the three have jointly pursued various musical directions and their sound has been refashioned to a number of styles and influences. Sometime in 1999, they elected to abandon their rock-oriented approach in search of something that would offer more freedom to experiment outside of the rigid confines of the established verse-chorus song structure.
The bulk of Audio:sleep’s output has always been without lyrics. The band found that they were able to stretch out and create more subtle atmospheres without restraining the song with a narrative. With the addition of keyboards and a shift to a spacier, beats-oriented sound, they found the platform to more fully explore the musical nuances that captivated them. “Without a full-time singer, we are able to be liberal in our song structure. When you have the freedom to say ‘anything goes,’ you have nearly limitless license to create,” explains Trevor. In 2002, Jeff joined the band to help more fully realize the scope of what they had undertaken.
But Audio:sleep’s range is not entirely without voice. Vocals certainly have their place in their repertoire, as evidenced on Chloe with “Blue Trees” and “Lovesick”. But instrumentals are the core to setting the tone. As Chris reflects, “ours could be video game music, or the soundtrack to pornographic films, it could be for car chases and dream sequences. Instrumental music can be used in so many ways but it’s our modus operandi simply because it’s what we most enjoy making. “When we recorded Chloe, our headspace was rooted in the instrumentals,” says Pat, “but vocals are also part of our sound and will continue to be expressed to varying degrees as we continue to write.”
A band not reliant on a voice to define their place can be a daunting proposition to both the creators and the listener. “The challenges particular to making chiefly instrumental music is that most people are accustomed to identifying with a voice to drive a band. We demand more from the audience as they have to give more of themselves to the experience. Our music relies on a more active listener -it’s not a passive, aural wallpaper; Audio:sleep gives you the colours and asks you to paint with them”, underscores Jeff.
The philosophy of Audio:sleep is straightforward - “to create music that is interesting and inspiring. Moods inspire the process more than anything,” Trevor says. Theirs is a sound most open to interpretation. Make with it what you will, they challenge. “While the songs each come from specific experiences for us,” admits Chris, “the listener is able to mold it to their own needs, to draw upon themselves to give songs their own direction.”
Playing live has always been central to Audio:sleep. The songs grow from an idea that is expanded upon in rehearsal and then experimented with live. The most certain test for any artist is always immediate audience reaction. Audio:sleep’s less constricted style gives them the ability to try a greater range of options in front of an audience and to shape the music to where it has the most impact. “The feedback we get from the crowd both during and after the set offers the motivation to continue writing and keep making that connection,” concludes Patrick. “But there’s another purpose to playing live: some people like to play golf. Some people like to knit. We like to play.” It’s this purity of purpose that permeates Chloe.
“When we perform live, the audience gets a more raw, visceral version of our songs. In the studio, we have the ability to construct a greater number of layers. We can illustrate the sounds to a finer degree,” explains Jeff. Chloe lays out a rich tapestry of sound. There are moments of brooding darkness and times of exultation. A sweeping keyboard, a flourish of guitar, a pulsing bassline or a propulsive beat can take a song in directions left for you to define. There are times in which to close your eyes and transcend into imagination and moments in which to raise your fist. It is an album that can either set the mood or give itself to the listener’s own. The album was recorded in the spring of 2003 at Toronto’s Umbrella Sound with producer Chris Wardman. The album was written and performed by Audio:sleep with guests Marisa Clare (vocals on “Blue Trees”) and World DMC champion turntablist DJ Dopey.
Some artists seek fame and adulation. Some want a pulpit from which to preach their viewpoint. Some want to cultivate the stereotypes of rock n’ roll hedonism. Audio:sleep seek something particular and substantial -a deep connection with their audience. They have a subtle message to convey, one that must be interpreted by the audience for their own uses. Audio:sleep speak through Chloe, with or without words, a language entirely their own.
TREVOR SLOAN - KEYBOARDS, VOCALS
PATRICK DINGASLAN - BASS, GUITAR
JEFF BARTELS - KEYBOARDS
CHRIS MONCADA - DRUMS