The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari by SleepbombRelease date: October 13, 2023
Label: Koolarrow Records / Consouling Sounds
Sleepbomb is a really interesting proposition, for the last 20 years it has made film adjacent music. In the case of the most recent album the focus was on the 1920’s German silent horror movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari soundtracked in the realms of psychedelic, doom and post-metal. Whilst I have never seen the film, nor this album synced up to it, the creation the band has made is strong enough to be judged by itself. There could probably be a long winded discussion about how much influence the film has on the music created but the standalone result is undeniably brilliant.
I really get a feeling for a Year Of No Light frame of reference as the keyboard plays a prominent role here amongst droning guitar and slow warm drum beats. It is very much in the grounds of a gloomy and atmospheric post-rock/metal. Split into six acts with two interludes the music stretches to 64 minutes with the shortest act being just under 7 minutes. Generally the music swells, not building to crushing crescendo but steadily layering the atmosphere and releasing tension as it goes.
A number of the songs are interrelated in tonality and theme which is probably due to the nature of the film the music is portraying. ‘Act I’ and ‘Act II’ are similar in approach and execution but after the interlude ‘Act III’ appears to be far lighter and more atmospheric. ‘Act IV’ and ‘Act V’ again sit in similar ground to ‘Act I’ and ‘Act II’ and it is in these four longer tracks where the real identity of the album is established. It’s slow, dark and never rushed, atmosphere drips from the keys and the reverbing guitar bounces through the smoke.
It is intriguing how many ways this album can be experienced but even without the use of visual imagery The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a beautifully lush atmospheric recording and a true feast for the ears. Sleepbomb has done a great job of making an album that stands without the film it is created to support and I would be intrigued to see the full project together. Until that time this is a blissful album with a tremendous atmosphere, expansive post-metal and organically wondrous songs.