Album ReviewsReviews

Sleep White Winter - Degeneracy of Nostalgia

Some­times the world will chuck things at you that you need. You only have to open your arms and catch.

Those close to me know that I’ve had a rough two weeks. As always, music is one of the things that pulls me through times like these.

One album in par­tic­u­lar that is hit­ting all the cur­rent right spots is Degen­er­acy of Nos­tal­gia by San Diego-based duo Sleep White Winter. Self-describ­ing as “doomgaze”, these six tracks take me back to my late teens and early twen­ties, to grey days soundtracked by the likes of Agal­loch, Opeth, Kata­to­nia, Alcest. There is some­thing from each of those lurk­ing in here, laced with a wave-drenched psy­che­delic gui­tar sound.

Those influ­ences are taken as influ­ences should be: as build­ing blocks for some­thing per­sonal. This is quite clear from the warm, hazy pro­duc­tion, from the heart­felt if occa­sion­ally waver­ing vocals, and from the boldly mixed, melodic bass, which is a sure way to get my atten­tion on a metal record. The com­pos­i­tions are var­ied without risk­ing aim­less­ness, switch­ing effort­lessly from mel­an­cholic midtempo rock­ing to blast­ing or a softer inter­lude. Such is the coher­ence of styles that the cover of Grey Waters’ “Below the Ever Set­ting Sun” could well have come from their own oeuvre.

Most import­antly, the album has a sense of self-aware­ness. Degen­er­acy of Nos­tal­gia feels like a look back at teen­age angst; care­less­ness, and at times care­free­ness as well; the kind we get in those moments where we look for some­thing tran­scend­ent in the world. It is an ode to both the brittle enthu­si­asm and mount­ing depres­sion of youth. It is wholly hon­est, with all the flaws and beauty that go with that.

Nos­tal­gia is a dis­tort­ing mir­ror. But remem­ber­ing that, being aware of that caveat, we can stare into it occa­sion­ally to see things we see nowhere else any­more; not in the same way as we once did.