Everyone wants to talk about the good old days, so let’s talk about them. Sleep Maps are a progressive, post-rock, space rock band. Mining the veins of genre tradition of their great forebears like Isis and Russian Circles, Sleep Maps go beyond their influences, channelling them directly a more retro-space rock sound. Think elements of Man Or Astroman? but it a much more serious context with touches of Pelican-like heaviness.
Progressive post-rock space metal maybe. The band are good musicians, this is totally serviceable stuff and I enjoyed it, but after a about 1000 post-rock bands that have the same basic influences, it takes something more to set a band’s sound apart.
With Sleep Maps, it’s an overall concept. The band describe their sound as that “of a lost future.” Sleep Maps create this sound in a very literal sense. “Fiction Makes The Future” is unique in that each track incorporates, I’d even go so far as to say is initially structured around, a long form sample. Most of these sound as though they’ve been taken from now-obsolete documentaries of the 60s and 70s.
Futuristic predictions of cities in the sea and of “electronic brains” superseding man within a generation eventually give way to philosophizing about man’s real inability to really know anything of the future and questioning the nature of our very purpose. Ah, the good old days.
By structuring their album around these audio clips, Sleep Maps chronicle the very arc of the 20th century; the demise of Modernism, the inability of people to believe in scientific achievement, the cynicism of post-modernism, and the failure of to dream we see evidenced in our cultures today.
It’s stark, “Fiction Makes The Future” may be the only grim post-rock album I’ve heard to date, but that’s what makes it such a compelling listen. A lot of post-rock aspires to be narrative, evoking emotions in a very abstract, movie-soundtrack sense. Sleep Maps ground their narrative in a reality that we’ve all shared, making their music that much more powerful and resonant.