Telefuzz’s album Sleep was released in 2002. This, to me, is a glorious example of downtempo music. Others may refer to this as trip-hop, ambient or chill-out music. Regardless of how one would categorise this album, The Telefuzz sound on Sleep is a complex, almost psychedelic soundscape. This album is multi-layered and multi-textured and its influences are wide and varied. Listen carefully, and you will hear dub, electronica, ambient and funky influences. The sounds used on this album include vocal samples, slow, spacious drum beats and a multitude of scratches, beats, samples and instruments. Listening to this album is the musical equivalent of a surreal b-movie. It is like a heap-trip without the ingestion of illicit substances.
When you listen to this album it flows in the same way that a good mix album does. In some ways, it is easier to review the album as a whole, rather that the sum of the parts. However, that is not to say that there are not some outstanding tracks on the album. What strikes you, when you look at the song titles, is that they are all puns. It is almost as if the titles are all in-jokes that the listener becomes a a party to.
The album starts with the Hindenburg, a slow atmospheric song, that has a prominent drum track at the front of the mix. Behind the drumbeats one hears snippets of vocals and a wide variety of sounds, that are pleasing on the ear. This is a long track, coming in at just over ten minutes, but it is an enjoyable track that is a good start to the album. Chem-Trails starts slowly, but quickly the tempo increases. Again on this track the drums are prominent in the mix, an the array of sounds surround and accompany the drums.
The Great Gag In the Sky starts with a vocal sample, and then meanders of into an interesting melodic journey. The tempo starts slowly and later in the track the drumbeat increases and the use of vocal sample continues and adds to the track. The Needles and the Homage Done follows a similar path to the previous track. There is the start with the vocal sample and the drumbeat that increases in tempo. Voyage of the Dawn Wigger again sees the use of the vocal sample at the start, but this track differs in sound. There is another vocal used in the track and the drumbeat is a different type is not as prominent. Also, the instruments and samples used give the track sound and tempo. The similarities in the structure of those three tracks could leave Telefuzz accused of being one-trick ponies, with a derivative sound. However, that would be wrong, because one needs to listen to the whole album before coming to that conclusion. Thatt is not the case here, as each song has a different sound and feel to it.
Chariots For Hire has a slow atmospheric sound. The use of samples and synths is clever and make this track sound like a piece of music from a science-fiction film. The sound is spacious and the tempo is kept low. Towards the end of the track a vocal sample is used, and this rounds the track off beautifully. This, for me, is the best track on the album.
Once again, the next track The Last Hemperor starts with a vocal sample. However, when one listens to the whole track you will realize that this was a good idea, as it compliments the track. After that the track is a slow, repetitive, sound that holds the listener attention. The use of samples and instrumentation is clever and what Telefuzz end up with is a very good track.
One Hundred Light Years of Solitude starts with the another vocal sample, and what follows afterwords is a mellow, atmospheric sound. It is both varied and repetitive at the same time. It is varied because of the different sounds to be found within the track, and repetitive because of the use of a recurring sample. This is one of the album’s standout tracks.
Tales of the Dubonic Plague unsurprisingly starts with a vocal sample. Again we find variety and repetition throughout the track, but on this track the tempo starts slowly and then increases. This is a compelling track where the listener is drawn in, and like a good movie, does not want to leave before the end.
The title Dreams of the Dendreons sounds like an episode of a low budget science fiction series from the 1960s. What we have is a lovely slow track with a lovely female vocal being sung over an eclectic collection of samples and instruments. The sound here is very like the Nightmares On Wax sound.
If the Vice Is Right starts with a vocal sample that includes the line “i’m sitting at the opera looking at how much work it takes to bore me”. This is a line from the Comedy Central show Dr Katz. This is as good a way to start a track as any. What follows is a mixture of samples, beeps and drumbeats, the latter increasing in tempo after about two minutes. For the remainder of the track the drumbeat continues on much the same vein, but after just after five minutes there is insertion of vocal sample that recurs for the remainder of the track. This is an interesting track that mixes samples, drumbeats and a variety of sounds.
The final song Blowing Bubbles From the Blimp of the Spirit is a has a slow, meandering song that only lasts three minutes. Sadly, it is one of these songs that you wish there was more of. Although it is a good song, I believe that this song could have been developed and made even better.
That is the story of Telefuzz’s album Sleep. This is an interesting album that is worth listening to. If you don’t have a copy, it is worth trying to find a copy. If you do, what you will find is a glorious album, that is some ways is like the soundtrack to an example of film noire. Sleep successfully sees Telefuzz combine samples, beats, beeps and a multitude of various different sounds and instruments, that combine to produce a fine downtempo album. Standout Tracks: Hindenburg, Chariots For Hire, One Hundred Light Years of Solitude and Dreams of the Dendreons.