Sleepingdog – Polar Life

April 15th, 2010 by Eric Loose


My favorite time to ponder life is right before I go to sleep. I wouldn’t describe it as full-on meditating, but I love tracking down some suitable music, grabbing my brand new headphones (Sennheisers for Christmas, what else?), and just concentrating on what comes to mind. Albums- usually post-rock – have come and gone as my staple listening material for this crucial point of my day. Lift Your Skinny FistsEnjoy Eternal Bliss, Spiderland, and The Glow Pt. 2 have all graced the top ranks of these “near-sleeping albums” with their presence. I wish I could tell you that Polar Life is just as amazing no matter when it penetrates your cranium; but for me, it’s not. Because of its intrinsically pleasing nature and the eeriness about Sleepingdog’s Polar Life, I’ve found it to be extremely suitable for this particular facet of my life. Sleepingdog achieves a rare quality throughout Polar Life– making a very slow-paced and calming record while maintaining the same level of absorption. Instead of extravagance and production being the vessel that allows Chantel Acda a pathway to utter serenity, Polar Life subscribes to a sense of purity and simplicity. The album in its entirety feels untainted and it allows Acda to sing (with her slight Belgian accent) songs that create a wide, clear soundscape- as pure as snow. While acceding to this particular order, the absolute chillness on Polar Life is achieved predominately through two different methods.

First is the simplistic ambience of pianos and drone created skillfully by Adam Wiltzie (better known for his Stars of the Lid fame). The melodies are superb – very soft and fragile, as to not ruffle any feathers. They create a lull, a valley of empty space for Chantel Acda to spill her austere voice. The notes are very sparse and they create a dessert-like musical landscape – much like Iceland, where Polar Life was recorded and by which it was influenced greatly. Sleepingdog’s particular take on folk music is beautiful. The defining quality is particularly the subtleties at work behind the vocals- the rich string arrangements, the repetitive pianos, and soft electronics, namely. Together, they create a tranquil atmosphere that perfectly complements the voice that graces Polar Life.

Perhaps it’s because of her soft, soothing voice, or maybe it’s that every phrase she utters sends a little chill down my spine, but there’s something special about Acda’s alluring vocals. It’s unique, definitely, and even though it always feels like Acda is holding back the true power of her cute and subdued singing, it’s very gratifying. Her simple imagery in “The Sun Sinks the Sea” is elegant even when her voice wavers on the longer notes. Whether she’s describing a walk down a snowy street or tales of lost love, I’m entranced. Drifting off to sleep becomes all the better experience with an enhancing supplement like Polar Life. Sleepingdog, through entrancing and minimalistic methods, create a serenity and pensiveness that could make a hyper-active 12 year-old sit down and ponder the meaning of life. The absolute pinnacle of this sublimity comes at the cessation of Polar Life. “If Only” is a testament to the beauty and power of simplicity. Every song is enjoyable in its own right, but because of the interconnectedness of the instrumentals and the overlapping themes

So try it out- turn off the lights, clear your mind, find your nicest headphones and listen to Sleepingdog inhabit your inner ear with Acda’s mesmerizing and beautiful melodies. As such, Polar Life is a very complete experience. It leaves you with a fulfillment that”s hard to find. As you drift off to sleep after the engrossing Polar Life, it’s difficult to feel discontentment- it just won’t happen. And in my personal, humble opinion, I feel like that’s the mark of a truly superb album- something so impacting it doesn’t leave you after you’re done listening to it. So don’t be surprised if you wake the next morning to wisps of dreams of a snowy plane or the remnants of an entrancing voice still fresh in your mind.

Recommended Tracks:

Your Eyes

The Sun Sinks In the Sea

If Only (Sophia)

Overall Grade: 91% A-

Download on Sleepingdog - Polar Life




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