Master craftsman James Welburn’s new LP, Sleeper in the Void, marks the 50th Miasmah release. The six years after his monumental debut have bred six tracks Welburn brings to fruition with the help of past co-conspirators from the Norwegian underground scene - Tomas Järmyr (Motorpsycho, Zu, Barchan), Hilde Marie Holsen (Hubro Records), and vocal artist Juliana Venter (W/V, Phil Winter).
On Sleeper in the Void, Welburn expands the domain of his sound, unveiling surprises until the very end of the album’s 36 minute playtime. While the character of the record is unmistakably his own, the tracks veer into many different territories, including a banging foray to the dancefloor.
The LP begins slowly with Raze, where Järmyr’s ritualistic cymbals introduce layers of Welburn’s signature sculpted bass drones and noise, building into a heart-wrenching epic of a track. This is perhaps the closest we ever get to Hold - Welburn’s previous LP. Falling from Time immediately surprises with it’s subdued mechanical techno beat, stark and cold as a glacier. Welburn’s texture-work is the star of the show, creating curious nooks and crannies of drone adorned with eerie melodies straight out of oblivion. This sense of wonder shines through to the album’s title track as well, where Welburn and Järmyr build another patient, echoing, and deeply cinematic piece, the drum patterns slowly shifting around a metallic hum that evokes the vision of church bells, ringing out under tonnes of seawater.
Sleeper in the Void feels like a story in two parts, rising lethargically, but with gargantuan power. The second begins with the momentous In and out of Blue, where Juliana Venter’s disembodied, spectral dirge takes center stage among the furious drums and bassy riffs, reaching a full crescendo with seconds to go. Parallel marks a release - Hilde Marie Holsen’s nostalgic soundscapes, pristine as glass, meeting the distant thunder of Welburn’s strings on the horizon. And finally, Fast Moon ends the record in a most surprising way - a tribal industrialized banger, complete with vile distorted beats and every other spice in demand on a blackened dancefloor.
Welburn’s Sleeper in the Void is a generous shapeshifter. Every inch of its soundwave breathes emotion and imagery - an invitation to take a dive and linger.