Sleep is a prominent theme on the second release from Musée Mécanique and that resting feeling seems to translate through into the group’s music – from the first track until the last the album moves softly along, introducing new melodies that foster the feeling of easiness, of calmness. It almost reminds me of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood in so much as it gives the listener the feeling of very much being an outside observer of a dreamy landscape, a sense of privilege to be able to witness what goes on behind everybody’s closed doors.
With hauntingly soft vocals that are reminiscent of Jose Gonzalez, accompanied by rolling guitar amid subtle drums, the album is comprised of several such moments and each one carries with it a sense of importance. It’s hard to say why or what causes this, but in the moment of listening to tracks such as The Open Sea you just feel that this is where you should be in that moment. Perhaps certainty more than importance, but hopefully you understand the jist of it.
Interestingly this album was partially created with the backing of a crowd-fund campaign run by the band. Well, to say it was created as a result of the above is incorrect – the album, if the internet is to be believed, has been in existence since 2012 but the crowd-funding’s purpose was to support the band in promoting and distributing the record. There’s something quite pleasant in that notion, that the band have made something to give to the public but require the public to make the giving possible.
A folk record through and through, the album is something of an exhibition of the diversity of said genre – some tracks are very much your old familiar of finger-picked guitar and wavering vocals while others show a slightly more psychedelic side. It covers all the bases and confirms the opinion that it is a very competently produced and written record and while there are some strong contributors to the success of the album, there are a few tracks which are the standout performers – The Open Sea and The World of Silence being my particular favourites.
I think it’s safe to say that unless you have a genuine enthusiasm for this genre, it can be quite easy to lose interest in a folk record and there are a couple of such moments on this record – while it is, for the most part, a celebration of all things great about folk music, that in itself might be its weakness. To those who might not be quite so keen, this album won’t necessarily sway them otherwise; to those who are on-board, it’s a case of preaching to the converted.
From Shores of Sleep makes for a pleasant listening experience and really should be labelled a success for what it accomplishes, for what it gives you as a listener. I would draw your attention to the penultimate track, Cast in the Brine, and the way that it brings everything to a winding conclusion. Choral, group vocals overlay and lend themselves to a soft but mildly dramatic, ever-growing body of synth-driven sound. Following it is the quiet address of The Shaker’s Cask, a pained appeal for rest – if you were so inclined to pretentious analogies you might argue that this signifies the moment where the body gives over to sleep, and I would say you might have a point. Either way, it’s an appropriate end to a very enjoyable record.