One fun aspect of record collecting is beautiful cover art. I think I even wrote a somewhat lame article on the subject at one point. Anyway, artwork that does the most for me is the kind that communicates the sounds on the actual record. Zelienople?s "Sleeper Coach" is close to perfection in this regard with its blurry, black and white photo of a dense leave forest. It?s almost like it was taken in a rush, from the window of a passing train forming a secret link between the urban and the rural. And when you open the case the same forest is presented in a crystal clear, sharp photo, which in its simplicity is shockingly effective.
It?s difficult to describe exactly how the soothing and darkly gentle "Sleeper Coach" fits into all this but if you open your ears and listen to this Chicago trio?s successful attempt of blending drone minimalism and slowcore with floating ambience and space rock moves you?re very likely to see what I mean. This is an album that you should play with headphones on, just staring out the train window watching the countryside roll by, let the melancholic undertones float around your skull like a meandering river through hilly farmlands.
The instruments employed include guitar, bass, organ, clarinets, sequencers, synthesizers, some vocals and lots of effects. The attention for details is impressive throughout and it?s not difficult to see that every track has had the chance to develop over a considerable time, zooming in and blowing up the sounds time after time until they got it all right.
In a review of the band?s previous album ("Pajama Avenue") I said that it wasn?t one of the most original things I've heard, but the evolvement of the songs is so hypnotic and mesmerizing that I don't really care. The same is still valid so this one comes highly recommended. 8/10 -- Mats Gustafsson (25 May, 2005)