brian batz makes music under the moniker sleep party people, but his given name never seems to be that detached from his project. there’s never been any question about the identity of the man behind the music, and batz even goes so far as to post every sleep party people song on a soundcloud account bearing his name. personally, if i were responsible for something as breathtaking as the music of sleep party people, i would want direct credit as well. on the project’s newest album, floating, batz ups the ante and creates one of the year’s best amalgamations of pop music and ambient sounds.
the lead single grabbed from floating, “in another world,” was – and still remains to be – a delectable earworm in every sense of the term. as the first taste of sleep party people’s new material, the song leans heavily on batz’s signature falsetto while adding strings and groove-heavy percussion over a minor key to make it truly ominous yet simultaneously infectious. the tracklist of floating is more or less aesthetically constructed around “in another world,” which gives the album a logical, if not somewhat predictable, trajectory. the opening triptych of songs are traced by warbly, modest mouse-esque guitar lines that weave expertly through batz’s ethereal voice and the percussion it sits on top of. “a stranger among us” seems to swap the six-string for the sine wave, promptly foreshadowing the electronic turn batz will begin to take shortly.
after pitting a western-themed guitar loop against synthetic strings on “in another world,” batz begins to broaden his horizons, culminating in “i see the sun, harold,” a hazy instrumental that bleeds acoustic piano effortlessly with feedback and other white noise. the song’s counterpart, appropriately titled “i see the moon,” offers an eight-minute detour down the most upbeat road batz travels throughout floating, but the song ultimately proves to be nothing more than a well-structured bypass; floating closes out with “only a shadow” and “scattered glass,” two melancholy cuts that are among the strongest on the album. “only a shadow” adds hesitant, vulnerable vocals to the aesthetic dictated by “i see the sun, harold,” allowing “scattered glass” to provide a huge contrast with its gradual layering and steady crescendo, effectively ending floating on a rather triumphant note.
brian batz is incredibly well-versed in manufacturing emotive songs, and he continues to display this trait on floating. sleep party people’s music is utterly cinematic, and this album is best experienced through headphones in order to appreciate each song’s subtle nuances. keep tabs on floating and try not to fall in love with the album artwork. it’s a harder task than it seems.