SleeperSound makes eclectic music for the mind and body
Every band wants to believe that their approach is innovative and exciting, providing fans with an inimitable listening experience.
The groups that can make good on that implied promise are few and far between. Milwaukee’s SleeperSound makes no such claims; they just go their quiet way, making music that defies easy categorization. Without any hyperbole, they are creating a new sound. Their approach is defined by the twin guitar pyrotechnics of Dave D’Antonio and Kenny Buesing, the subtle bass lines of Mike Campise and Dan Niedziejko’s commanding work on the drum kit. In Medias Res, their first album, explores the sonic horizon, with an understated grace and extraordinary musicianship. Intertwining guitar lines dance through the mix, showering your ears with intricate fingerpicking, thick distorted chords and atmospheric effects that ebb and flow, as if connected to a universal heartbeat. Niedziejko’s drumming crackles, adding sharp accents to free flowing compositions that contain elements of classical music and jazz, with Campise smoothing out the bottom end with his restrained contribution.
The music was composed and produced by the band and recorded at Niedziejko’s home studio. “We worked on these songs for the better part of a year,” Niedziejko says. “It took so long because we cut everything live, no punch ins or punch outs. We probably played every song 20 or 30 times to iron it out. The music has to have a human element, even though we use all these electronic elements in the arrangements. We don’t play to a click track, because I want that element of sway that only comes when you play live.”
The songs on In Medias Res – Latin for “in the middle of things” – view life on earth through a pensive, albeit realistic lens. The minimal, often non-rhyming lyrics provide a somber counterpoint to the generally brisk instrumental work. “We’re not 21 years of age,” Niedziejko explains. “We all have day jobs and have been playing music for a long time, so we bring our life experience into the music. As we near middle age, we’re conscious of life’s journey and use the music to express that. In some ways, the music is therapy for us. I hope other people find their own release in the music and add their own meaning to what’s being evoked. If we can achieve that, then it’s a success for us.”
In the studio, the band sets up their gear the same way they prepare for an on stage performance. In that way, they insure their ability to duplicate everything on the record when they play the songs live. “If you could see the gear setup, you’d be amazed,” Niedziejko says. “Everyone has a synthesizer or two, their guitar or bass and a few effects pedals. Everybody does a lot of multitasking. We get a lot of sound for a four-piece band. What you hear on the record is what we sound like. We don’t do any triple tracking, just use stereo effects on the guitars and some looper pedals. Dave (D’Antonio, guitar) was originally a drummer. He went to school on a percussion scholarship. I think that training helps him play all his instruments simultaneously. He’ll use one foot on a bass synthesizer, hold the guitar in one hand, have one hand on his keyboard and sing at the same time. All the guys can do this a little bit. They switch between instruments pretty gracefully. All I have to do is sit there and play the drums.”