Drone music is an interesting genre. A couple years ago, I just didn't have the patience at all for it. I'd stumble across different releases by artists that were generally in the same genre and after a couple minutes, I'd simply have to turn it off. It was only just about 2 years ago that I ran across a cheap vinyl copy of the other release by Stars Of The Lid (Per Aspera Ad Astra) and although it had some interesting moments, it mainly gathered dust on the "less listened to" side of the crate of records I own.
When I started seeing that Stars Of The Lid had a new 2CD release coming out that was supposedly their best effort yet, it piqued my interest again slightly. I've always been a sucker for many of the releases on the Kranky label, and although I'd bought some less-than-interesting things from them, the amazing releases more than made up for the mis-steps. In preparation (and wondering whether I should even give the group another chance), I took their old record out of storage and again gave it a listen. What I found was that I could appreciate it more. Although it was still nothing I would have wanted to listen to while operating heavy machinery, there were textures that I didn't pick up on before and subtle moments that cooed at me from my speakers.
I think I'd better make clear right now that The Tired Sounds Of is very, very repetitive. At 2CDs and over 2 hours of music, it clocks it at a full 3 times the length of their previous effort, and the group have obviously expanded their sound palette (as well as their band lineup) a great deal. I'm not sure whether the title of the record is meant as sort of a tongue-in-cheek joke or not, but I will say that out of all the music that I own, this is one of the only releases that is consistent enough that I actually find it lulling me to sleep most of the times that I listen to it. As someone who's a light sleeper and wakes at nearly every change in volume, that's not a light statement.
The first disc of the set is broken up into three different tracks which in turn have three different "movements" each. "Requiem For Dying Mothers" is the first of the three and quite possibly my favorite. Part 1 of the track drifts along with some warm textures and a repeated string melody that is achingly beautiful before it moves into the second part in which a light flourish of strings can barely be made out in the background while a gentle bass throbs deeply and some backwards guitar parts slide through. The third part of the track is much darker and different sounding than the first two, as a haunting piano part plays and ghostly voices drift through a soft mist.
The closing three-part track of "Broken Harbors" works equally as well, as the first part of the track opens with a very marine feel, as if you're hearing the mix of whale calls and boat horns through the thickest, dampest fog ever while the remaining two parts play off that theme ever-so-slightly. The second disc has more individual tracks, including the amazing "Piano Aquieu," but it carries the same, steady, slightly despairing feel as the first. The pace is never really quickened much at all and the volume never even once gets loud (other than a couple moments where low end frequencies purr). If it all sounds boring to you, chances are that it probably will be, but there's definitely a simple beauty to it all that I can't quite put my finger on. It's become almost my default bedtime album when I'm trying to wind down and have maybe had a bit too much caffeine for the night. Granted, that might not sound like a recommendation (who wants an album that makes them sleepy?), but if you're in the mood, it's the perfect aural narcotic to lead you right to the edge of sleep and keep you hovering there until you feel like falling over the edge.