It is with a heavy heart that I review this Sleepwalk by Optimo. On the one hand it is an immense expression of sound artists, technology and its advanced practitioners. On the other hand a prime focusing on listening itself is the foregrounded question what is the sound of sound? Whether this is a question for the listener or the musician could be held to be moot from the “I just came here to dance’ crowd.
Sleepwalk is eclectic and expresses DJs JD Twitch and JG Wilkes great enthusiasm and prolific ear for music outside the boundaries of their hip Glasgow club Optimo (Espacio). It is definitely a listening album beyond the confines of the sense of ambient chill in the straight rave sense. It combines the poetics of Eden Ahbez “La Mer’ with the dissipation of Lee Hazelwood doing a version of â€œWhole lotta shakin’ going on’, Duke Ellington, Arthur Russell’ classic “This is how we walk on the moon’, Cluster, Tuxedomoon, Coilâ€¦ So as you can see, if you have at all ventured into the realms of these artists’ works that there is a great variance in the tableau of sound presented by Optimo. It is not merely the mixing, but the engineering and production that Optimo bring to the collection that present it as a wildly interesting thrill for the ear.
The real reticence I have about Optimo is a question of a waking life rather than mere sleepwalking. Being of the obsessive cultural imbiber, the examination of artifacts is key to this particular illness. I have come to the conclusion that anything associated with the occult world is by nature doomed. Think “The Maltese Falcon’ or “Foucault’s Pendulum’ as signposts in my world. So now having in front of me a sonic text recorded at “The Solar Lodge’ the warning bells are going off in my head, think Manson, Solar Temple, boy in the box, think “The Family’. You have it, I would prefer you didn’, it is such an impressive collection that to tie it all together with such reference points is odd to say the least. But closer examination of some of the artists involved may have you closer to this world than wisdom would allow.
So if you find that sound encapsulates the world of the artist, that music conveys this world to the audience then you may very well question whether this mix is for you. You may very well be considerably postmodern and consider that expression is by essence all, rather than that which is expressed, that all has validity. Perhaps examination of art in terms of artistic responsibility in terms of what is expressed is merely old fashioned and questions of ethics in art are a supreme delusion. However it is not in the movement beyond good and evil, in the existential sense, or beyond the infinite, but a life truly lived well will convey through its artifacts ideas and lasting truths that have no need for the esoteric arts.
However you may very well consider these opinions to be mere interests of the reviewer, let your ear do the listening, perhaps not your eye.