Nick Nicely is a name, I have to admit, I am not familiar with – but he is someone who has had a very long career (albeit without a wide catalogue) making atmospheric, ambient “neo-psychedelic” sounds in England. As someone who loves almost every kind of psychedelic-styled music, I can’t really see that angle of his work or on this album, Sleep Safari, but I can say it’s atmospheric, indeed. Sleep Safari is supposed to be an “homage to unconsciousness, lyrically exploring sleep’s mysteries through a surrealist eye”.
Heavy on the electronics, but not coldly mechanical, the songs have a dancefloor quality. The vocals are mixed to fit the sounds so that it’s a combination rather than voice and backing track. The first piece, “Solar Wind” has a slightly hypnotic feel – if I’m correct, this would be right for a rave; “Sound Of The Moon” is more voice and rhythms that melodies but mixes in what sounds like distorted guitar loops and “Rainmaker”, which is the longest track, is definitely “ambient” and atmospheric – it’s one of those soundscapes that you can imagine hearing in a movie. “Ghost Dream”, which, to these ears, sounds like a mix of early ’80’s “new wave” electronic and modern effects is the first single (video below); “Souvenir” is a combination of rhythms, guitar pieces weaved in, distant vocals and various samples and “Dance Away” is possibly the most “structured” of the songs, as it has a cinematic and dramatic vibe.
I want to say that I found this album interesting and intriguing, but I can’t. In a word, it’s too meandering for my tastes – I’m not one for electronica as it is – but it left me cold and disconnected. I didn’t find it “psychedelic” or “trippy”, either; if I’m in that kind of musical mood, I would plump for The Rain Parade or Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd. But if electronica/trance/ambient is your preference and you haven’t experienced him, Nick Nicely may be the right elixir for you.
Sleep Safari will be released on Friday, September 29th, 2017