February 10, 2002

Exhalera Deck "Breathe"

Some nights, I can't sleep. It's true. I toss and I turn and I can't seem to get into the groove with my Rapid Eye Movement. Stress, perhaps, is the leading factor in my inability to sleep. I'm not going to go into the details about why, but let's just say that the toils of the work-a-day world seem to hit hardest when I try to get my beauty sleep. I've also been told it could be the conflict between normal person and my inner rock-and-roll animal that simply cannot fathom the notion of me being in bed by 10:30 nearly every night.

Suffice it to say, sometime I need a little help in order to get my full 6 hours of sleep. Occasionally, I'll take a sleeping pill, but I tend to avoid them, as usually I'll oversleep or will be left feeling utterly groggy and grumpy. "Nightcaps" I avoid, simply because many alcohols are high in sugar content, which, I do believe, is the last thing you'd want to take if you're suffering from restlessness. I've even used cough syrup as a sleep aid, but I don't like to talk about that, because, man, that's a sign of a real problem.

Nearly every night, though, I use music to lull me to sleep. Hey, if it can soothe the savage beast, it might just work for someone like me. What I've grown accustomed to doing is placing a record on rotation that I'm going to be reviewing, so as to let it sink in on a subliminal level. If the sleep problem's really bad, I'll use a record that I know will definitly put me to sleep, and, if the record is particularly beautiful or moving, it'll remain on heavy rotation for weeks at a time. I don't like to do this to most of the records I review, as it's easy to dismiss good music as something to put you to sleep. Since you can't appreciate things like lyrics or singing style if you're in a trancelike state, the music I use for sleeping is often electronica or, at the very least, instrumental.

I can't tell you much about Exhalera Deck, other than the fact that it's an offshoot from Chris Jeely's project Accelera Deck. I can't really compare the two, either. I know that Accelera Deck is more electronic, and, from what I've heard, is more experimental than this. Breathe is an album chock full of dance music for the mind. Like bands such as Autechre and Mouse on Mars, Exhalera Deck seems intent on entering your mind and expanding your thoughts with grooves that occasionally will (hopefully) inspire you to move your feet...or, in some instances, take you to another level of consciousness. It's worked for me.

I've found Breathe to be a rather pleasant ticket for a mental, spiritual journey. It's good for my nights when I don't sleep. That I wake up feeling smarter, and slightly more smug in my intelligence, is a surpirse gift that Breathe delivers. I've also woken up screaming, having dreamed that I'm a robot, and a not particularly friendly robot as well..but I don't think I should comment on that, now should I?

--Joseph Kyle

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