Simultaneously subtly haunting and strikingly calamitous the debut album “Sleepwater” from Bradford based duo Ronan Peaker and Mickey Dale, who together form Experiment 637, is an enchanting immersion into the soundscape of despair and existential dread.  

Opening with the fragile and quietly despondent track “Old Machine” which narrates from the perspective of someone physically and mentally lost Experiment 637 immediately establish the melancholy mood of the album. With the use of soft piano chords as well as the echoing and subtle static noise that encompasses large portions of the track merging with the broken sounding vocals of Ronan Peaker the song feels like a beautifully done musical testament of someone simply giving into darkness. There’s an eerie and slightly disturbing tone to the opening track which Experiment 637 carry on building on as the album progresses.  

The second and presently most popular track from the album “Too Soon to Call a Search” is equally delicate in its approach yet even more poignant. Beginning with the muted acoustic guitar notes and neofolk sound reminiscent of something by The Microphones the soft acoustic atmosphere is quickly pierced by echoing electric guitar and more of a shoegaze twist.

The unexpected transition between these two different sounds that continues throughout the track creates a foreboding and perturbing atmosphere that is also displayed in the lyrics of the track that depict an obsessively co-dependent relationship. The ability of Experiment 637 to create a moving atmosphere through their music is proven in “Sleepwater” many times.  

Another strong track on “Sleepwater” where Experiment 637 skilfully merge both their delicately subdued sound with the cataclysmic to create a sense of dread is the song “Midday Sun” which starts as an exquisite piano ballad and slowly becomes more chaotic as it progresses ending with industrial noise madness that is completely overwhelming.

The psychedelic aspect to more shoegaze tracks such as “Bendy One” harbours a dystopian energy as it hypnotises the listener. Moments of unease are frequent on this album and are delivered in an almost beguiling manner as tracks such as “Undercurrent”, “Kick Me in Your Sleep” and “Plains” seem to almost lull the listener into a state of dreaming that will surely end in nightmare.  

Despite the broken rhythm and depressed tone to much of the album the track “Is as the Wind” is an encouraging track in which Experiment 637 use the electronic instrumentals to create a soaring sense of assurance rather than one of doom.

The closing track to the album “Wandering Alone” however definitely ends the album on a darker note but as always crafted with exquisite sadness. Despite its gloomy and sometimes disconcerting nature, “Sleepwater” is an album that is a complete pleasure to indulge in showing Experiment 637’s skill in bewitching the listener.