Recorded at his home in Scotland, The Sleeper Awakes by Ben Chatwin is inspired by the works of HG Wells and sees Chatwin, who has previously released music under the name Talvihorros, concentrate on ambient melody as he creates subtle tunes which beautifully meld together into a distinct structure rather than a textured ambient sound. Along with synths and other electronics, Chatwin also uses a 100 year old Dulcitone on the album.
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As Talvihorros, Ben Chatwin made scorched-earth ambient styled after Tim Hecker and the OO Ray, leaving permanent scars on perfect droned surfaces. Under his real boy name, though, there are sightings of a homeward bound Chatwin, an artist juxtaposing the harsh dramatics of his old music with newer, more humane sounds. The melodies on ‘The Sleeper Awakes’ resemble a human touch.
Taking on the crescendoing, plaintive artifices of artists like Arvo Part and Max Richter, Chatwin’s new record sounds more frantic than his old soundscaping of yore; the constant presence of strings serves as a sugar rush of sorts, as if motivating these songs further towards their conclusions. Chatwin’s experimentation with different instruments opens up his work to different timbres, with “In The Fire” sounding particularly panoramic thanks to touches of dulcimer. Moving with the creeping pace of a post-rock tune, it only reaches an exponential climax, not blazing a fire but still sounding bigger and bolder in reference to its original arrangement.
Chatwin’s music has simply never sounded this homely: “203 Years” sounds like homemade classical. a thrumming toy piano bringing to mind closed doors and quiet living rooms. The melodic force of this record combines with an almost preternatural understanding of the feelings and imagery certain instruments can evoke with their sound.
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