- A Rising Sun
- Black Maps
- Longshore Drift
- In Your Sleep
- In the Ocean
Created slowly over a years-long span that encompassed the recording of 2019’s Stray Fantasies, wife and husband duo Hollie and Keith Kenniff deliver In a Deep & Dreamless Sleep, a distinctly hazier chapter of their technicolor pop venture Mint Julep. Where the former album bore a crystalline latticework of defined pop structure, the latter blunts the sharpness and softens the glare, striking a balance between songcraft, and Hollie’s solo material, as well as Keith’s output as Goldmund. In a Deep & Dreamless Sleep assumes a more aerated form, exuding a heavy fog of shoegaze sensibility, though the infectious pop know-how of its precursor remains firmly intact. “Our previous material tended to be structured largely in a verse/chorus setting,” Keith explains, “but these songs are more free flowing and through-composed with a focus on mood and texture. He continues “A lot of the songs are more stream-of-consciousness than premeditated; we went with first ideas and let them guide the composition rather than planning a definitive road map-- which hopefully lends itself to creating a specific and unique emotional connection.”
Opening track “A Rising Sun” inaugurates such notions with a gentle drum beat and thrumming acoustic guitar that glints beneath a topsoil of analog static. Where the usual pop song would take expected sharp turns from section to section, motifs remain steadfast, amassing vocals, guitar leads, and a marching snare drum until the listener is immersed in a riptide of impressionistic pop. Here, as on the rest of In a Deep & Dreamless Sleep, no single instrument claims center stage. Rather, each sound lends itself to an overarching megatexture that fully immerses the listener. “Black Maps” provides the most familiar sense of structure, allowing a final moment of lucidity before dropping into the dense jovian atmosphere that follows. From here each track is a self-contained weather pattern that accumulates, precipitates, and evaporates from beginning to middle to end. At once low and high fidelity, In a Deep & Dreamless Sleep succeeds in its use of anachronism by crafting a setting that belongs neither to the past nor the future, yet rings of both. The closest thing to a title track, “In Your Sleep” drips with an almost prehistoric sense of psychedelia within its slow, unimaginably deep motorik pulse, and full-spectrum growling drones. “Westerly” serves as a clarified postscript, like a note written in a bedside journal upon waking.
Somewhat counter to its title, In a Deep & Dreamless Sleep is rife with dreamworld inclinations in which waking and sleeping, loving and leaving, living and dying, are all interchangeable. The album is imbued with the soft opiation of oncoming love-- or perhaps that’s the mournfulness of a love in its twilight. Or, further still, that feeling is the spousal duo nurturing their love against the backdrop of their busy lives. “Time is a valued commodity, but we make it a point to do this together.” Says Keith. “Mint Julep is a good bonding experience, it’s akin to a date night. Our routine is not structured, but we chip away at it, sometimes in long bursts, sometimes in short windows of opportunity.” In a Deep & Dreamless Sleep is a window into an intoxicatingly romantic parallel world the Kenniffs have constructed out of analog synths, masterful sound design, nectar-drenched hooks, and airy vocals that wade way out into a sea of texture. They have managed to hone years worth of date-nights into a 46 minute collection of phosphoric ambient pop which bears a sense of skillful consistency that belies the album’s casual creation.
Hollie Kenniff and Keith Kenniff