Will Saul & October Light Sleeper
Sleep isn't the first concept that many dance music producers would want to have associated with their work. With this in mind, Aus label head Will Saul and October (a.k.a. Julian Smith) have made a bit of a bold decision by naming their latest release Light Sleeper. As it turns out, it's an entirely fitting title for an EP that stays mostly lost in a drowsy haze of its own creation. There's never a moment in which its two tracks—one of which is a Michael Mayer remix of the titular work—seem to be conveying anything more than a general mood of vague, retro-inspired somnambulance.
This complaint is more leveled at "Light Sleeper" than Mayer's remix, as the original is lifeless in the way it combines so many deep-house stereotypes into its six-minute duration. Built upon a heavily reverbed two-chord riff and a spare, kick-only four-on-the-floor rhythm, the track has a moody slant that feels unemotional and disconnected. This stems from the song's basic arrangement and sonic predictability: it's got a droopy TB-303 bassline, tribal-indebted tom work, and even an unintelligible sample of a black man talking. The problem comes down to the line between originality and referentiality. While there can be creativity in reference, the problem with "Light Sleeper" is the way in which it seems to be trying to obscure the former with the latter—there's just not much being said that hasn't been better articulated before.
Kompakt co-founder Michael Mayer's remix is more successful. Gearing the single for club play, he replaces the semiotic clutter of the a-side—the acid bassline and spoken word are the first to go—with the rhythmic momentum of synth blips, tight hi-hats, and more present claps. His version is less openly nostalgic, giving the EP a much-needed contemporary spin that feels more in line with the established aesthetic of Aus. It's Light Sleeper's saving grace, a dance track that, while not amazing, won't exactly put you to sleep either.
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