Sometimes when an artist is nondiscriminatory with his or her influences, the result is unfocused, muddy, and downright confusing. Many feel compelled to use a whole spice rack of ingredients when thoughtfully mixing and matching would service their music and lyrics in a far better way. Cologne, Germany-based Boris Rogowski believes there’s no such thing as a bad influence, yet it’s clear that in his new release, The Big Sleep, no matter if the influence is good or bad, it’s been carefully integrated and, in some cases, upgraded.
In the vein of digitally based artists like Gotye and Daft Punk, Rogowski, who was a founding member of psycho pop quintet Die Sonne, relates his own dreamlike vision and generates possibly the most aptly named album ever. Under the guise of The Society Islands, Rogowski takes the listener on a journey bordering on consciousness and something catatonic. Is it a dream, or is it something darker? Opener “Square 1” is a catchy, rhythm-driven pop tune cloaked in analog effects, just for good measure. Of course, not everything on The Big Sleep is steeped in scary technology. “Run For My Money” is very traditional in its indie rock roots and infectious chorus, particularly on the fade-out (a surefire trick to ensure the listener plays it again and again).
The standout track, however, is “Archer,” which also happens to be the album’s first single. Effortlessly straddling the line between the contemporary and the futuristic, the band taps into a timeless rock formula, but also crafts something that sounds wholly modern, even with extra reverb and some rather dark subject material, like dying alone. Yet, there’s something vaguely sunshiney about the track, like what might have been going on in Brian Wilson’s head in the mid-70s.
Overall, the best thing about The Big Sleep is its non-polarizing vibe and sense that, somehow, you’ve heard this all before, but it’s even better the second time around. Is it because of Rogowski’s past, his bevvy of influences, or just because the music is simply great? If you’re an indie, neo-folk, or dream pop hater, I encourage you to take a listen. You just might find something you like.