Sleep Whale – Houseboat

This part of the LP really shapes up to be a pastoral take on Yerself Is Steam  (Western Vinyl)

An LP that’s been out for a while in the US, Houseboat is a great LP and well worth your attention. There is a very strong home-made vibe to this release, it does at times sound like it’s been recorded in a shed (possibly the vocals add to this). Although the opener Green Echo and the follow up Cotton Curls are perfectly acceptable slabs of art rock, the first track to really grab your attention is We Were Dripping, which combines a strange muted vocals and a bouncy beat to very strange effect.

Following We Were Dripping, the LP settles down into a very pleasant listen indeed. Roof Sailing and Summer Sick are blissed-out, slightly ponderous mood pieces with a hint of woozy psychedelia. This part of the LP really shapes up to be a pastoral take on Yerself Is Steam, especially when the listener considers the thrumming acoustic patterns and “vague” vocal delivery on Still Drumming. It’s also got the countryside vibe of Traffic’s John Barleycorn or Mr. Fantasy, though Traffic’s soulful elements aren’t present at all. The Beta Band comes to mind too, if only because of the playful elements in tracks like We Were Dripping or the messy nature of tracks like Make Another Picture.

The best tracks are possibly the last; Icicles is a lovely short instrumental, and the ghostly Ferry Whistle builds on Icicles’ use of strings to create a haunting vibe somewhere between Brian Wilson’s re-worked Smile and Daphne Oram’s soundscapes. Giant Wings is a veritable sloth-fest of strange noises and possibly the best track on the LP.

Enjoyable, laid back stuff.