A cool breath sits in the air ready to disappear as the sky gets stuck in time. The night gets hazy. Life stands still within even as the world outside continues its forward march. Lydian Dunbar’s Blue Sleep emits this feeling of being content in the stillness, unworried about being left in place. Dunbar created Blue Sleep to remember a specific day at Byron Bay when he and a friend found an abandoned shelter made of sticks and branches and fell asleep inside staring out at the sky.
Blue Sleep is the music of lucid dreams. Dunbar’s voice weaves through many of these pieces and, like the sky or ocean for him, becomes the calming presence on the album. Silhouetted notes stretch out toward the horizon, nearly broken and waiting for an embrace on the title track. Each passage bends but never breaks, finding the point where longing becomes a distant memory. The atmosphere is distilled in glass before the angled aural edges of “A Whale Is Dreaming Me” breaks everything wide open. There’s such a tangible quality to this music, as though each element is saturated with living textures. Electronics shirr and scramble across the midnight beach, trying to find the edge of the shore and dive back into the deep.
Languid, aching chords etch out mesmerizing shapes in the sand of “Sky Hum.” Simple, emotional progressions bleed into the earth like ancient shadows. Layered melodies melt away leaving only the strongest heartstrings to hold everything together. Even with this minimalist approach, the atmosphere of this music is alive, imbued with a richness from field recordings and thoughtful melodic arrangements.
Dunbar has pieced together something timeless on Blue Sleep. It feels like music that’s always existed in the ether, waiting for someone to pierce the face and bring all the emotive sound back to earth. It’s a graceful leviathan thrashing elegantly, bringing everyone’s attention forward to a place where it’s safe to let go and breathe. This music is gentle, unforced, and potent.