Sleep In The Water is the debut LP from Snakadaktal. This is an album that will shatter preconceptions, a bold new offering that highlights depths of talent hinted at in previous releases. It’s a bit like reuniting with an old friend, a friend who’s sailed around the world to come home older and wiser. Only instead of bringing home stories about Paris, New York or London, they return singing strange, beautiful ballads about finding love at the bottom of the ocean.
Snakadaktal didn’t so much explode onto the music scene as cascade gently down like a handful of glitter thrown over a crowd. Soon after they first came together to make sweet music, Pheobe Cockburn, Sean Heathcliff, Joseph Clough, Jarrah McCarty-Smith and Barna Nemeth were named as triple J Unearthed High winners for 2011. Their self-produced Snakadaktal EP reached no. 26 on the ARIA digital charts. Two singles – Chimera and Air – went into high rotation on triple J, with Air claiming #22 in the Hottest 100.
They followed this up with 2012’s stand-alone single Dance Bear, which reinvented their dreamy pop as a dance-floor friendly masterpiece. Dance Bear won them a place in the latest Hottest 100 and was recently released alongside Air as a double A-side 7” by UK tastemakers Young & Lost Club (label to indie darlings Noah and the Whale and Bombay Bicycle Club).
The debut LP – Sleep In The Water – is an album that is ambitious yet tranquil, accomplished and otherworldly but always down-to-Earth. Album opener Fall Underneath woos you with playful synth bouncing around a simple hand clap, then a wash of vocals and percussive guitars before melting into Hung On Tight. The first single from the album, with its urgent drumming and deliciously ambiguous lyrics, explores “trust, youth, family and the scary, scary world of people,” launching into an album that is eclectic and breathtaking in its aspirations – a sonic kaleidoscope of endlessly shifting sound.
In making this record, the band found a kindred spirit in Dann Hume, multi instrumentalist and record producer (Lisa Mitchell and Alpine), and spent four months at his Stable Studios in Gisborne, refining their new sound.
You can hear those months spent writing in every note of Sleep In The Water. Fans will recognise dreamy instrumentals and magical boy-girl harmonies underscored by poetic lyrics. Yet the band’s sound is bigger, more expansive, better. It takes you to strange, wonderful places, and is always worth the journey. Feel The Ocean, Hold Me Under is a playful take on vocal house that breaks itself down and packs away into the slinky, shades of Too Soon, where Phoebe and Sean gently invite us to Sleep In The Water. The effect is hypnotic, like sinking into a warm bath.
The feeling of being underwater is central to this record, a sustained metaphor about letting go of childish things and taking on the world, without losing that sense of wonder. “Lyrically and sonically, it is about our emotional and physical connection to water. It’s a world that helps us to express what we’re feeling. This is a record about moments and emotion.”
Lyrically eccentric, but infinitely listenable, everyone who hears this record will get something different out of it, whether it’s a plaintive love song like The Sun II, a cheeky pop interlude like Isolate or the transcendent, hopeful melancholy of Sleep. And that’s just the way Snakadaktal like it.
“We hope that each listener interprets the record in their own way,” explains Phoebe. “We all find different meanings in the words, so we write to leave space to connect with listeners. We write songs for the sake of song writing. We are, first, a writing and recording band. That’s where we’re comfortable.”
Snakadaktal write music with room to dream; intensely personal but worldly. So take a little time to dream. Get comfortable, put on a decent pair of headphones and take yourself on holiday for 47 wonderful minutes. You’re going to enjoy it.