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Music Education: Sleep's Dopesmoker


The Bear Jew

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Good afternoon, kiddies. Today's lesson....

 

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51QG2AGRZ8L._SL500_AA240_.jpg

 

Yes, Sleep's epic Dopesmoker.

Clicky for Amazon sound clips and whatnot.

 

Sleep is probably the apotheosis of stoner rock bands.... I don't think any act in the past 20 years has done anything quite as droning, doomy and ungodly heavy as Dopesmoker... except for possibly Sunn o))), but that band is another story entirely.

 

Sleep was/is a trio from San Jose, Calif., consisting of Matt Pike (guitar), Al Cisneros (bass) and Chris Hakius (drums). The band very obviously took its musical cues from acts like Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Motorhead and perhaps The Melvins... but it's like these guys' record players only worked at half speed.

 

Dopesmoker is basically a single hour-plus track, and it comes with one of rocks greatest true stories attached. After a fairly popular record (Holy Mountain) Sleep was signed by Polygram's subsidiary London records, and given a major-label amount of money to record a follow-up. Sleep vanished into the studio with producer Billy Anderson. Over the course of the next two years or so, the band spent virtually the entire recording budget on weed, stonewalling the record company's attempts to get answers or any kind of product. Finally, the band handed this recording to the label--a 63-minute song about weed, and the guys insisted on making its third album... with no edits or breaks. Quite unsurprisingly, Sleep was promptly dropped, and the song/album vanished into music-biz limbo.

 

Of course, the album leaked through a few sources, and it was also released in a somewhat truncated from through another label later.

 

The band eventually broke up, with Pike starting another somewhat more conventional heavy metal trio called High On Fire, and Cisernos and Haikus forming the experimental drum-and-bass duo, Om.

 

So, let's get to the music.... it's sloooooooow. And heavy. And obviously recorded with gear that was running very loudly. It's clearly meant to be appreciated by listeners under the influence of illicit substances. Honestly, I don't indulge in such things (seriously, I don't), but this recording makes me feel like I'm stoned out of my mind. It's a weird, cumulative effect--you're aware the CD has started, but somehow... next thing you know... 20 minutes has passed, and you're not aware of it. You sorta fall into the music. It's pretty wild. I'm not even sure how a band would go about writing this kind of stuff... it's so drony, I'm not sure how these guys clued each other in on the changes that seem to happen on a lunar basis.

 

Gear-wise, the band was a big proponent of Green Matamp gear, which is really expensive, and, naturally, really, really loud. Bassist Cisernos is Rickenbacker user... and yeah, as I said, he plays REALLY loudly--three tube amp heads, two 4x15 cabs, one 2x15, two 4x12s and a 6x10. No, I am not kidding.

 

Anyway, this whole thing is not for everyone. I'd call it an acquired taste, but that's not fair, because you really have to want to acquire a taste for this kind of stuff before you go out and try to acquire it.

 

 

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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I'd really like to check it out but Amazon doesn't give you a chance. The hour long title track preview sounds like one of my earliest recordings. Just bass directly into home stereo tape deck, no amp, no DI.

 

Keep the suggestions coming, even PM me. I'm on a quest for new music, I have to take some things out of rotation on my MP3.

If you think my playing is bad, you should hear me sing!
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Crap. I didn't realize the Amazon clips were so aborted.

 

Well, hour-long mp3s are hard to dig up online...

But I can direct you here for some other free Sleep mp3s. These aren't from Dopesmoker, but I think you might get the idea if you take a listen.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Good afternoon, kiddies. Today's lesson....

 

Yes teacher!! :)

 

The band very obviously took its musical cues from acts like Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Motorhead and perhaps The Melvins... but it's like these guys' record players only worked at half speed.

 

I remember having listened to Sabbath and having thought of it as slow rock (well, some early tracks, at least...), and Celtic Frost, from my teen years, except for some tracks, used to be quite slow ("Mesmerized", I recall...) So.. Half the speed? come on... Oh well, half speed Mötorhead makes for a pretty decent slow rock band, I guess. But still... :)

 

 

Sleep was signed by Polygram's subsidiary London records, and given a major-label amount of money to record a follow-up. Sleep vanished into the studio with producer Billy Anderson. Over the course of the next two years or so, the band spent virtually the entire recording budget on weed,

 

...which explains the half-speed thing, hahahahaha!!!.

 

The band eventually broke up, with Pike starting another somewhat more conventional heavy metal trio called High On Fire,

 

Which is the follow up from being high on all those other things, I guess.. ;)

 

 

Gear-wise, the band was a big proponent of Green Matamp gear, which is really expensive, and, naturally, really, really loud. Bassist Cisernos is Rickenbacker user... and yeah, as I said, he plays REALLY loudly--three tube amp heads, two 4x15 cabs, one 2x15, two 4x12s and a 6x10. No, I am not kidding.

 

Is his Ric Jetglo black, by any chance? ;) I wonder what the mother of that Cisneros kid would say about it. I bet he has real kind, nice neighbors, and/or no wife. Just guessin'...

 

Anyway, this whole thing is not for everyone. I'd call it an acquired taste, but that's not fair, because you really have to want to acquire a taste for this kind of stuff before you go out and try to acquire it.

 

What?? My ears are still ringing from last paragraph's... :P

 

Will give it a spin... :)

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Ok, so I did clicked on the links for stonerrock.com and gave a listening to "The wall of Yawn"... but maybe there is something wrong here with my system... All I heard was the sound of about 200 kilos of Marijuana being burned... and some band playing and singing in the background... :P

Brought to you by Juancarlin.

www.juancarlinmusic.com

http://www.youtube.com/JuanCarlinMusic

www.facebook.com/JuanCarlinMusic

Instagram: @JuanCarlinMusic

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...Honestly, I don't indulge in such things (seriously, I don't), but this recording makes me feel like I'm stoned out of my mind...
I understand that. Many moons ago I frequently listened to Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" while stoned and listening to it now will elicit that same feeling.

 

 

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