Posted by Aphra Magazine on 23/7/15.
Art of Sleeping have truly outdone themselves with their new album Shake Shiver, a topsy-turvy rollercoaster that explores different aspects of human experience and emotion through the persona of a mysterious and intriguing woman. Caleb Hodges’ vocals layer her with the power to elicit love and loss, sadness and angst as she constantly evolves and assumes different roles during the album. Recorded in Airlock Studios with the combined effort of Swedish maestro Lasse Marten, Big Scary’s Tom Iansek and long-term collaborator Yanto Browning, Shake Shiver is a multi-faceted album full of intrigue and emotional depth.
Shake Shiver begins with ‘Win Your Heart’, a song with a relaxed guitar melody that is overlaid with Caleb’s serious and earnest vocals, as he sings, ‘You never say the words I crave to hear from you, and every time you walk away, I fall right through, it’s what you do’. His vocals then become more exasperated and passionate in the chorus, which is electrified by heavier guitar sounds and the banging of the drums. It is as though this woman has pushed him off the edge and he is literally falling.
Then the second track ‘Crazy’ comes on, which is one of the most endearing songs on Shake Shiver as Caleb’s bittersweet vocals grace our ears with ‘Oh you must think I’m crazy, the way that I hold onto you’. The drums are quite prominent in this track, accompanied by the occasional heavy guitar streak that materialises when Caleb voices the word ‘crazy’ in the chorus.
‘Jefferson’ truly reflects the experimental nature of Art of Sleeping as they move beyond our expectations, twisting the use of instruments in order to produce unique and unusual compositions. Caleb’s vocals are pained as he sings, ‘If only I can let it go’ repeatedly throughout the song, and we are submerged into his chaotic world with all of the various sounds taking us for a hell of a ride. This song is undeniably brilliant in its juxtaposition of different sounds, which make us feel both excited and unsettled as we try to fully grasp the mechanics behind them.
Caleb’s vocals are faster with a brighter tone in ‘Bleeding Out’, and the guitar and drums provide the song with its easygoing and carefree nature. The chorus, however, becomes heavier and more upbeat as he sings, ‘Tell me if I’m bleeding, tell me if I’m bleeding out’. Next comes ‘I’m Not The One’, and here Caleb sings in the crashing chorus, ‘I am not the one that you want to hold ya, I’m only going to let you down’. We gain a sharp glance into the amount of power this woman holds over him.
‘Burning Bright’ is a gentle lullaby with smooth vocals and tender guitar strumming, which induces us into a relaxed trance after the angst we have felt in the previous songs. The guitar and vocals do become more heightened towards the ending, and Caleb finishes the song with, ‘Why do you treat me like a stranger?’, which makes us realise just how alienated he really feels.
‘The Cage’ is the final song on the album, and it starts off with delicate instrumentation before breaking out with high-pitched piano sounds that lay waste to the song’s gentle flow. ‘I still live in a cage, I wake up next to you, we got nothing to say,’ sings Caleb. We are positioned to feel the emotional turmoil sizzling in this song, overwhelmed by the haunting and alienating nature of both its lyrics and rhythm.
Shake Shiver positions its listeners to feel unsettled, unable to fully comprehend the subliminal qualities of this woman and her chameleon-like personas throughout this album. Art of Sleeping are to be admired for their bold efforts in de-constructing sounds and translating them into interesting and refreshing rhythms; they have ventured outside the box and have certainly challenged their listeners with emotional complexity and thought-provoking themes. Be sure to give Shake Shiver a listen – it will definitely make you shake and shiver.
Art of Sleeping – Shake Shiver is out now on Dew Process / Universal Music Australia.