The Hated Opinionated One

Alt-Ctrl-Sleep Resets Your Heart’s Cluttered Hard Drive

Posted by Scotio on August 26, 2008

I have a soft spot for these Girl-Guy bands where the 2 main/prominent members are in a relationship together. Something about the way that they are able to make beautiful music together is just splendid, to me(pun intended). One of the bands that actually got me into the growing underground trend is the mesmerizing Alt-Ctrl-Sleep. No, it’s not a computer button combination. There’s nothing mechanical about their music. It’s majestic and enchanting in a way that has become sparingly rare in the last few years. Their self-titled album released in February of 2008 was one that received little buzz and even less marketable attention. Which, honestly, is purely criminal in every sense of the words “creative” and “artistic.”

“Take Care” opens the album and on a note that transcends both time and emotion. Joe Diaco soothingly serenades both the listener and his equally musically incline wife & bandmate April at the same time. You can hear the delicate intimacy in the song. They borrow the essence of music from the mid to late 60’s. When schoolboys would become eager and bashful for the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance, and girls would brag to their friends that the boy they were dating “Pinned” them(and, no, that isn’t perverted. If you don’t know what that term is, ask your parents or someone in their 50’s). There’s just nothing wrong with the song. You can’t find a flaw in it. I’ve tried. It resulted in me just falling more into the blissful floating sensation that comes from letting the song take over everything. That doesn’t come from just knowing your instruments and how to make them work for you. That comes from when you make music from your heart. Which is exactly what this couple does for the entire album.

I could snatch any song out of the bunch and hark the herald on almost all of their work on this brilliant blend of songs. On “Ones And Zeroes,” the duo adds in some Lo-Fi electronic sounds to their recipe. It isn’t anything that distracts or takes away from what they do. Like the mastery use of any instrument, it builds more into their sound than it does take away. It’s such a subtle addition, like your mother adding just a pinch of spice to her neighborhood famous meatloaf. The addition, though, takes them from an Acoustic duo to a Dream Pop one. I’m not talking about your “riding down Sunset Blvd.” dream pop, here. No, I’m talking about running through the forest with the girl of your dreams to go swimming in the stream and make out on the bank type of dream pop. The kind of music that inspires good, innovative and loving Indy Flicks. The follow-up track “Catching Up To You” further dives into the new field that they’ve entered. Bringing with it a sense of that old school “Quiet Storm” mix to the whole picture(If you’re too young to even know what the term “Quiet Storm” means, then I can only hope that you have enough life experience to truly appreciate the amazing emotion of this album). It features no vocals. It’s just an instrumental track that showcases what this Husband & Wife team could do if they decided to switch up their style and go completely Lo-Fi electronic with their routine(or, hopefully as a side-project).

“Kandy” is a song that’s far too dreamy to be real. From the blissful echo of Joe’s whispery smooth vocals to the almost child-like playing of the keyboard riffs to the subtle and unabrasive drumming. The whole song just screams out quiet genius. It’s hard to deal with music that is so minimal yet light years ahead of what is normally [force] fed to the world. It’s even harder to believe that such captivating music could come from any other source but a loving & working relationship between two lovers. If there was ever a song of the year, this would seriously be one of the top contenders. Again, them not getting, in my view, sufficient attention is just so wrong in so many ways. But, I guess that makes them even more special and magical in their execution, delivery and honesty.

Being that I could go on for days about each and every track on this album(And there’s 16 of them, so that would take a while), I’ll just try to touch on a few more of the more soul changing/life altering tracks. “Lies” is great even in its annoying factor. The annoying factor is this static/distortion that runs through almost the entire song. But, for some reason, it adds to the whole sound of the song. Giving it more of a nostalgic feeling of a time long passed than a technical blip in their recording/mixing process. I’m not sure if this was intentional to be added in or if it was a mishap that seemed to work in their favor so they decided to keep it. But, either or, it does wonders with an already sweeping track. “Satellites (Venus To Mars)” is just nothing short of being as spectacular as riding a Unicorn in the Kentucky Derby for the win. I know, that sounds silly, but think about that for a second, will you? Go ahead. I’ll wait. […] Ok. Yeah, it was silly, but seemed cool at the same time. Well, this song is nothing close to silly. It’s just cool all the way through. The drum track keeps the cadence of the melody marching along boldly, yet not with intensity or aggressiveness. And, the lyrics and song concept are just wonderful. Venus to Mars = Women to Men, for those of you who aren’t in the know with astrology and Satellite figures. The fact that Joe’s vocals are doubled in a similar fashion to if he’s talking to Houston from space makes the whole thing that much more awe inspiring. You get the feeling that he’s drifting amongst the stars and finally found that one being that he’s searched his entire life for. The one that completely completes him. Granted, we all know that the one is April. Still, if there would be anyway to describe it, you could say that this is Joe’s mind before he married April. Lastly, I’d like to mention the track “Hold On.” It’s a combination of Dream Pop and Psychedelic music. It’s somewhere between getting high in a field of dandelions and riding in a car through the country roads with the top down in the middle of the night staring at the stars. Yeah, it was a run-on sentence, but I don’t care. The song deserves it(in a good way). Joe’s underwater-styled vocals just sends ripples through the listener while you’re treated to soft cat-in-heat moan-like sound throughout. With, again, the drums playing a critical part in the reception of the song. A slow and steady tempo that allows for any “Midnight Under the Stars” or “Under the Sea” prom event’s King & Queen dance to be a very good one. The guitar solo is short enough not to leave you lost, but performed properly enough to make that slow dance all the more romantic. When I wed, this will be the song that I’ll want to dance that first dance to.

To know that this Husband & Wife act are already in the process of creating their next soon-to-be masterpiece is a great thing to know. They are saying that they plan for it to be more “accessible.” I can understand them wanting to build their fan-base, and they promised to still be as dreamy for it. Still, I just feel that they shouldn’t have to dumb down even for a moment. I feel that the world needs to step up and understand what true musical art is all about. And their debut first album is as artisitic as taking a stroll through the Louvre in Paris. Along with being equally as impressive. I can only hope that they make a third, fourth, and fifth album after the second one. They’re needed in today’s monotomy. And, if I was to give star ratings out on this site, this couple would receive a solid 5 stars.




2 Responses to “Alt-Ctrl-Sleep Resets Your Heart’s Cluttered Hard Drive”

  1. I don’t know who you are, but this is probably one of the happiest moments of our life, reading this blog. Seriously, you made my wife cry.. but in the best possible way. It’s been a hard year for us in trying to get our feet wet.(it’s not our labels fault, they are AWESOME and have already helped us out a lot.) I’ll write a blog about our near misses this year….

    You are right about the industry though, lots of monotonous bands, one of the MAIN reasons we started recording our own music(you can read our blog on our myspace about that.)

    Nice job on Satellites. It’s a song about recognizing your surroundings, and peers through instinct, which we are ALL born with.
    We really like people to make their own interpretations of our songs, so I won’t waste much time explaining every song.. All we can say is that our album is about love, betrayal, hope, fears, and things pertaining to life.

    We continue to record music, because we love to. One thing is for sure though, we will never steer away from our sound: simple, melodic, and dreamy. That is our comfort zone, and our personal taste. In the future, our music may get a little louder and noisier, but not in a way where it will distract the listener. We actually sit and spend HOURS or DAYS listening to our own songs till we call it “finished”. The recording part is easy, most songs are done in a few hours to one day… usually spontaneously, but listening is THE most important factor. We also want to capture the listener from the beginning of each song.

    We really want the world to hear and love our music, but not in a conceded way. What we REALLY want if for people to really sit down again and LISTEN to music, and I mean, the whole album. Not just one song. I mean, do you look at a painting and just stare at one part, or do you critique or admire the whole thing? We feel music shouldn’t be any different.

    Well I’ve taken enough time here in excitement. Thanks for your tireless effort to tell the world in a blog about our music. It really has made a joyful sound in our home.

    much love,
    Joe & April

  2. Scotio said

    LOL. Thanks, man. I love you guys music. I actually came across it while browsing your label(Lakeshore)’s page. From there, I was highly curious about your music, and when I heard it, I seriously was not disappointed at all. I’ve told my friends that this is seriously a top contender for Album Of The Year for me to the point that they’ve browsed to your page and started loving your music as well. I know I’m not in heavy traffic or even being properly offered anything before hands, but I do want to help expose people to bands that definitely deserve the attention.

    And, I completely understand your fight. I am trying to gain ground in the writing world. So, everything that I create is, to me, another step towards that goal. Though, I don’t hound this blog with reviews on an daily basis, I’d rather wait and write something on a moving piece of music over just mass production like some sort of machine . . . or, in a more honest case, bashing something that doesn’t deserve the attention but receives it due to mainstream commercial popularity terms of today.

    I actually held a little chat with one of the workers of your record store. He told me about the songs featured in The Midnight Meat Train movie and that you were working on a new album. I mentioned to him that I would write up a review on you guys. He didn’t bother to ask for the address or anything, and I’m not sure his actual name. But, I spoke to him about how interested I was to hear your music. It’s truly magical, to say the least. I love that your music is very honest and from the heart. And, it will be used as inspiration as I try to forge out more of my original written work(I’m tinkering with a collection of short stories and a novel). So, I’m very much so glad that you not only read the review, but also heavily enjoyed it.

    And, after the phenomenal work of this debut, I’ll be extremely eager to hear any and all of your work. Thanks a million for checking out the review.

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