Review of Riceboy Sleeps self-titled debut album released through Parlophone.
Featuring Jón þór Birgisson, vocalist of Icelandic post-rock darlings Sígur Rós, Riceboy Sleeps were always going to have a weight of expectation placed upon them. A labour of love between Jón and boyfriend Alex Somers, Riceboy Sleeps began as a continuing art project, showcasing paintings in galleries across their native land. Soon however the couple were called upon to produce a track for the (rather fantastic) Dark Was The Night compilation, and not long after the two-piece had created a full-length album.
Before this however they leant their artistic talents to Nashville stargazers Hammock, creating the artwork for their breathtaking 'Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow', and it seems in return Riceboy Sleeps have taken a certain amount of inspiration for their debút.
Which is not to say the result is something completely derivative and without value. 'Riceboy Sleeps' is an exceptionally beautiful album; its molten layers of ambience soar majestically, all arcing strings and filed-down samples that rise above minimalism yet shy away from approaching the epic schematics of their father band. It is perfect morning after music, with each track easing in and out, slowly attracting attention without forcing it. It is the sort of album you could put on repeat and lose yourself in for days on end.
It also manages to carve somewhat of a niche in the surprisingly overcrowded ambient scene. It is almost a world away from the barely there twinklings of Stars Of The Lid, and has a much stronger emotional quality to it than the almost-studious music of scene godfather Brian Eno.
Yet it doesn't quite reach the heavens like 'Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow', and at times it feels a little more two-dimensional. 'Daniell In The Sea' and 'Stokkseyri' breathe slowly but surely other songs, particularly the closing track 'Sleeping Giant' sound a little laboured.
Riceboy Sleeps' debút may not live up to the expectations of some fans of Sigur Rós but it doesn't fall under the weight of them either, and though it may trace an idea or two from elsewhere it is still a work of enough independence and starry-eyed wonder to warrant investigation.