Sand is the solo project of Sam Healy. He is best known as half of post-proggers North Atlantic Oscillation. The line between both of Healy’s projects is a bit blurred and for me, as a fan of his work, I have no problem with that. Sand’s first album was more sparse while “A Sleeper, Just Awake” finds Healy pushing things in a bigger, more epic fashion.
Style wise, Healy has always been a mix of Brian Wilson and Kevin Moore, for me. His love for harmonies and falsetto (a la Wilson) remain intact. While his experimentation with sounds, loops and contrast are even more to the fore on this album. “A Sleeper, Just Awake” is more of everything that I like about him.
“Mayfly” starts with a warped piano sound which leads to a very Chroma Key-esque track. Wistful melodies over a sparse atmospheric backdrop that eventually with a strong hooky chorus and some MASSIVE breaks after that – this is what Sam Healy does so damn well. It’s so dynamic and I LOVE THAT! “Long Touch Good Bye (LTGB)” is like a dream sequence which is another one of Healy’s strengths. There’s a lush nature to everything he does.
“Commitment to the Bit” is the Beatles meets Radiohead, another favorite track. “Seldom Used Furniture” also has that Chroma Key vibe to it. “Knock yourself out.” Yes I am singing the chorus in my head. And I know I keep comparing Sand to Chroma Key but the approach is similar and certainly the level of talent is equal as well. I’d love to hear Moore and Healy collaborate to be honest! They are both way ahead of the curve both in their arrangements and their sense of melody.
“Berceuse” has this moment midway through that is MASSIVE. What makes it even bigger is the delicate nature of everything around it. Incredible. “A Sleeper, Just Awake” is all about the songs and how they are framed. Beautiful, at times unconventional and yes challenging. Whether it’s the upbeat “Embers” or the pulsating electronic epic closer “Earth Mound Square,” there is nothing that this album doesn’t do well.
For those people who think prog rock is cycled neo-prog, “A Sleeper, Just Awake” is like a bucket of cold water to the face. This album is truly progressive and Sam Healy has proven yet again to be a great talent. The only complaint I have is the album cover sucks, but that’s just me nitpicking because I have to find SOMETHING wrong! “A Sleeper, Just Awake” is another victory for Sam Healy and Sand.
3. Commitment To The Bit
4. Seldom Used Furniture
9. Earth Mound Square
Label: Vineland Music