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Album Review: Raffertie – Sleep of Reason

It’s hard to believe that Sleep of Reason is Raffertie’s debut album when the London-based producer and composer’s name has been floating about for a good few years now. Raffertie – real name Benjamin Stefanski – has put his name to several EPs and singles as well as remixes of Franz Ferdinand, Wild Beasts and Niki & the Dove. To top that, he also runs Super Recordings, which was responsible for releasing early singles from AlunaGeorge and Bondax last year. So, we can’t complain really; Raffertie has been a busy guy.

The album may carry 13 tracks, boasting Raffertie’s ear for lush hooks, as well as samples and noises that make you go ‘ooh’ – but as tracks drop in and out, it feels more like a mixtape. It’s hard to differentiate between some tracks; which is clever on Raffertie’s part because his experimental, electro sound is perfect for a long, uninterrupted mix, but the single-worthy tracks also give it the sense of an album.

Back to these ‘ooh’ sounds; the album is showered in them. ‘Undertow’ opens with cosmic rumbles that initially roam into War of the Worlds territory, before heading deeper with hard-pattering drums. The glitchy movement rises up in ‘Gagging Order’ and ‘Principle Action’, while the popping drums in ‘Last Train Home’ and ‘Window Out’ contrast with the hastier crashes heard to finish this elegant earful in ‘Back of the Line’. The contemporary sample on ‘One Track Mind’ is a cascading nod to something Kraftwerk-like, crossed with arcade game music.

There are some quieter tracks too, like ‘Known’, which graciously builds up with a sparse guitar on a crackled foundation, until the absorbing beat comes for you. ‘Trust’ carries a similar tone – minus the big beat – but both tracks get lost in the album. Vocally, the album excels. Raffertie’s voice echoes and bounces off the music’s sponged walls with loved-up words creating a bit – emphasis on the bit – of a story. Straddled over a grand, shifting beat, which sounds like a very very downbeat ‘Shampain’ by Marina & the Diamonds, the words of ‘Build Me Up’ are a highlight: “Build me up but don’t let me go, ‘cos you know that I won’t and I’ll leave now I know you’re my baby.” ‘Touching’, meanwhile, features, “When we touch, I can’t breathe”, over the dancefloor-friendly skitterings.

Raffertie’s ability to woo with impressively snappy production and equally as breezy vocals, mean that he’s definitely made up for lost time on the album front with ‘Sleep of Reason’.

- Hayley Fox

Sleep of Reason is available now on Ninja Tune.

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