Progressive rock trio Mister Sir is setting their sights on a wild trajectory to the stars with their latest album, titled Sleep. Actually, the album is just part of the Sleep project, which also includes art created by Anastasia Kovaleva and a series of videos. The Tomsk-based group – Tomsk happens to be Siberia’s star of architectural woodcarving – is comprised of Andrew Trifonov on drums, Sergey Rokhmanyuk on bass, and Anton Serov on guitar and vocals. The band has an enthralling sound that is at once youthful and fast, but patient.
The album begins with “Oh, The Payday! (Midnight),” in which progressive guitars combine with drums like a person with obsessive compulsive disorder and hedge clippers. The vocals come quickly, as if in a race with the guitars. When the break arrives, a guitar solo embodies a beautiful nightmare, then the vicious scream-croak of false vocal folds, like the shadow of the boogie man, pops in to make its presence known. “Pick Me Up (Stage N1)” features guitars that are luscious like the soft warm bits of chocolate cake that stick to the layer pan after executing a less than perfect flip. This is the melodic guitar that dreams are made of, raised up by the strummed rhythm like a victor on the shoulders of friends. The song progresses through verses and chorus, and is worthy of a good head bang, should you be so inclined.
Guitars pulse melody into your head as if they could read your thoughts in “Please, Stop This (Stage N2).” The track has a hint of the grotesque carnival atmosphere, and the vocals walk the line between snarling and smooth like Matt Bellamy and all those other guys with range who creep up on us so powerfully, there is an existential sadness about the time lived without having heard them.
“Sandaksatru (REM)” has some fantastic songwriting. When I realize it’s a dream I can create anything, sings Anton, over a thumping bass and full-throttle guitar that seem to race each other on a highway where the dotted white line is percussion, blending together as the pace intensifies. Rasped vocals narrate the goings-on in dreams and the doings of Morpheus, who is addressed in the chorus with Morpheus please come and take me away. “Memories (Brief Awakening)” features some feats of fingering, the results of which are like the sun on your ankles as you dangle your feet off the end of a dock. I get the distinct sensation that this guitar work is affecting my brain in a particular way, one which I first noticed years ago (with Gui Boratto), and it makes me wonder about how my perception of the sound has been shaped by other things I have fed into my ears. (What have you been feeding your ears lately?)
“The Bridges Between My Everythings (Slow-Wave Sleep)” begins, with lovely power chords flowing over slow bass guitar and a steady pound-splash-ripple of the drums. The interplay between notes is clean like kite flying and delightfully gritty like a good game of volleyball in the rain. By the time the vocals reach my ears, I’m deep in reverie. The vocals soar, taking up the airspace the impressive guitar backed away from. The next track on the album – “Ain’t Real (Morning)” – slips into the listener’s consciousness like morning: distant at first, the individual sounds unidentifiable and indistinguishable until greater cognitive effort is exerted to a higher level of alertness. Lyrics question reality as the guitars go frolicking into the day and a machine beat bounces.
“Pulses (Midnight),” with the Russian title “Импульсы (Полночь),” is a 41-second interlude of crickets and lasers, like the inception of something otherworldly. It also serves as an instrumental break between the English and Russian language tracks.
The vocals soar above the loud rhythms in “Спаси Меня (Фаза N1),” a track that offers the listeners moments of crystalline focus on the thick guitar, thicker bass, and full drums. The end of the song is like spinning around as fast as you can until you lose your balance, an activity that is very important for adults to engage in from time to time.
Interestingly, “Please, Stop This (Stage N2)” was translated to “Что Же Ты Ждёшь (Фаза N2),” which is a bit closer to “What are you waiting for (Phase N2).” The song retains the vocals that will make you raise your eyebrows and the driving guitar that tastes like cheap beer. It’s the sort of guitar that can rattle your soul. This time around the track is like a victory lap in a go cart. With total control, the guys artfully weave around the beat with soaring melodies and strong vocals.
Bass cuts like a hot knife through a sonic cheesecake in “Сандаксатру (Быстрый Сон),” the Russian version of “Sandaksatru (REM).” The sung vocals contrast with the rasped lyrics in a delicious way that tugs at my sleeve, reminding me to return to my Cyrillic studies. The guitar in “Воспоминания (Частичное Пробуждение)” works its melodic magic, preparing the listener for the vocals, which seem more reserved than the cries of the stupendously strung instrument. “Мост Между Всем И Всем (Медленноволновой Сон),” which is “The Bridges Between My Everythings (Slow-Wave Sleep)” with Russian lyrics, is like a conversation with someone you don’t always see eye-to-eye with. The guitar states its case, disagrees, and explains why. It is bitterly luscious like a $4 truffle.
The massaged song of crickets creates an opening rhythm that sounds both natural and computational at once as “Не Прав (Утро)” begins. Then, the frolicking, bounciness of “Ain’t Real (Morning)” unfolds. At the end of the album, a lingering aftertaste of the optimism embodied by the track (and a new day) offers reassurance to the listener, like a visible Venus after the sun has begun its diurnal voyage.
Like a night well spent spelunking in the realms of the subconscious, the album, Sleep ranges from raspberry syrup vocals and guitars that act like meringue at various stages and temperatures to the terror of a guttural scream (FVF FTW). Mister Sir is a thoughtful band with talent that likely has an interesting physiological effect when witnessed live. Now, how can I catch a show?