Last Step is an alias used by Aaron Funk, whom you may know as Venetian Snares. His new adventure is called 'Sleep' and - as the title suggests - it's a collection of compositions that Funk recorded quite literally as he was falling asleep.
For those used to Funk's more abrasive recordings the slower, woozy tempos and soporific atmospheres may come as a surprise. Recorded using his own arsenal of analogue synths and sequencers, Aaron has exploited the wandering timing and pitch of these old beasts to produce uncanny and evocative detuning effects which add to the induced torpor. Even the track titles relate to the theme: 'Xyrem', a narcolepsy treatment; 'Cimicdae', a name for the bedbug family. So, while the atmosphere may be unsettling in places, the tempos and structures are those of an experimental house music album, with abstracted 303 acid lines and classic drum machines acting as a welcome familiarity as you navigate the odd time-signatures and plastic aural sensations of Last Step's hypnagogic world.
In the words of the man himself:
"Sleep are tunes I recorded while falling asleep. These tracks are really different for me, really mellow and dreamy, that nice comfortable feeling when you're falling asleep. Feels pointless to describe it, that feeling, there really shouldn't be words for that state, so I describe the process a little instead. For awhile, when I was really tired and ready to go to bed instead of going to sleep I would make a tune. Get some stuff going on my sequencers, drum machines, patch up my modular and just jam it. Would fall asleep alot listening to the sequences, few seconds of sleep or a few minutes, wake up in it. This is what I sound like in my sleep."
I'll never doubt a solo Ceephax album again. Having played this record several times after release day, I initially misjudged it for not doing what I wanted it to do. Truth is, this album has a pace that doesn't care what you demand. Now of a different mood, I've adjusted to the slower subtleties and find myself bathing in the lovely, mellow melodies. Introspective, buoyant acid... it should be mandatory listening in my old-age home decades from now, and I DO mean that respectfully. Naked Soul