Sleep of Reason is an attention-grabbing set of songs from Greek synth-punk Stathis Leontiadis (and friends) on Bristol’s Peripheral Minimal imprint. Although permafrosted keyboards and a distant European bark may be nothing new, it’s a relief to hear something of such good quality, even if they don’t exactly rip up any trees in the process.
Conceptually, the 10” is split between two sides: ‘Asleep’ and ‘Awake’. The first, while not exactly somnambulant, seems to focus on the loneliness or ‘mood’ of sleep rather than attempting to induce it. One doesn’t sense that benign dreams and sweet repose are what sleep brings here. On the flip-side, collaboration is the plunge from the isolation of slumber as Leontiadis enrolls Pascal/Νίκος Πασχαλίδης (of Noisetoy and Ludmila) and, excitingly, Valisia Odell of acerbic minimal wave band Strawberry Pills to charge this second side with a new, varied energy. Her one vocal turn on the final track is one of this disc’s highlights.
Deploying bludgeoningly physical sequencer patterns in ways that remains interesting and varied, Doric manages to keep pace and uniformity (this isn’t prog, for sure) without sacrificing complexity. As such, all tracks here are energetic and varied. This collection’s aforementioned closer, ‘Poets’ Land’, is positively hyperactive in its shrill oscillations and rapid-fire drums; surely a fantastic number to experience live.
Crisp drum machines are paired with sharp, clear synth tones such as on the soaring ‘Exposing Vanity’—certainly Leontiadis’s strongest vocal turn on the 10”, which manages to sound urgent, passionate, and anthemic without tripping over too many clichés or comparisons (no mean feat for electronic wave music). Doric’s music can be said to be indebted to a lot of post-punk guitar bands in terms of structure and spirit as one could easily transpose many of these icy melodies onto crystalline guitar tones. And no adult punk drummer would struggle with the percussion; Doric brings a flesh-and-blood energy to a genre that is usually distant and mechanised or leaning too much on dramatic vocal histrionics.
So while Doric does produce a solid set of consistently interesting and adrenaline-soaked songs, it has done so without breaking down the barriers, which is all the more admirable as limitation are clearly, in this case, a great precursor to inspiration. Whether such efforts serve any but the inner-circle of electro-archaeologists remains to be seen but, to be sure, anything unearthed by Doric will be worth the dig.
A1) Over My Dreams
A2) Head Against the Wall
A3) Sleep of Reason
B1) Exposing Vanity
B2) Life in Reverse
B3) Poets’ Land