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Sleepthief is the project of the enigmatic Justin Elswick.  Originally from California, he's had an obsession with music from a very young age which he has cultivated and maintained for us all to enjoy in the form of this musical project.  His enigmatic character comes out in the fact that he works full time as an attorney and somehow finds the time and inspiration to work on this remarkable talent.

There really isn't much of a history for this artist as the debut album is yet to be released at the time of the writing of this article.  However, just with the pre-release buzz from fellow DJs and press, this is a promising musical project to watch.  The debut album is titled The Dawnseeker and enlists the help of eleven talented female vocalists to add their talents to Justin's production and writing.  Overall the music from this project can be compared to other female fronted ethereal, dreampop and trip-hop bands in the scene.  Artists and projects that immediately come to mind include Chandeen, Delerium and Lunascape.  The music has enough of a pop flavor that this project could easily be heard on commercial radio alongside the likes of Tori Amos and Portishead and related projects, but has enough ethereal and trip-hop style to be a prominent fixture alongside previously mentioned artists in the goth and electro-pop scene.

Check out the website (listed below) for the latest news, updates, more in-depth biography and information about collaborating vocalists.  For now, we have plenty of material to enjoy from this debut album.  It will be interesting to see where this project goes after this debut album.  Gothic Paradise listeners will already no doubt be familiar with many tracks, so keep listening and let us know what you think about them.

Eurydice (CDS) - Review

Following hot on the heels of the excellent debut album from this group, we have the first single from this project. I think it would be very hard to choose from the excellent tracks on the album for their first single, so maybe they did what I would have done... just started from the first piece on the album.  At any rate, this is as good of a choice as any for the band to promote as their first single with it's more upbeat rhythms that makes it somewhat club-friendly and definitely something that could make it into commercial radio and still be extremely popular to the underground music scene.  The disc presents seven tracks including the "single version" and six remixes varying from more electro club friendly to beautiful downtempo.

The "single edit" is pretty much what you would expect, not much different from the album version.  But as we delve into the remixes we're presented with some really great and different takes on this beautiful song.  The first remix is in the form of "Nick Wax's Orpheus Descending Mix" which turns this piece into a straight up techno/electronica dance mix that you might hear at a dance club in Ibiza, it even draws out with simple loops and a techno beat for easy club beat mixing.  This certainly broadens the spectrum and fanbase for this group with this style, yet it's still very accessible to fans of the moodier electro-goth scene.  This is followed by the "Psychosomatic Mix" which begins with the dreamy ambient textures and many elements of the original piece but quickly breaks into an excellent dance-friendly rhythm which is solid and heavy, providing a powerful foundation for this track while maintaining much of the original style, creating more of a melodic synthpop piece than anything techno or trance oriented.

At this point we're brought to a beautiful, yet almost gloomy mix in the form of "Dark Territory Mix".  It still is presented with a minimal, yet moving beat, but the overall mood remains dark, but mesmerizing with various ethereal soundscapes mixed with a sort of droning bassline and effects.  This cuts off and leaves us slowly building up to "Nook & Cranny's Lost Mix" which I think in the end is more of a distraction than a remix with the break beats presented, but with the wide-genre ranges this project will span, I'm sure someone will enjoy this track for what it is.  This also provides a good bridge to the "Sensory Gate" mix which is another very distinct remix, taking looped samples and layering them over some trance tracks and providing the foundation for the vocal track.  Again, it may depend on the listener's personal preference, but it seems to be another piece that is farthest away from the original smooth piece.

This brings us to the final mix titled "Underworld A Cappella Mix" which starts out as exactly that... the vocal track with nothing else present.  This is a nice twist as it really brings out the harmonized and backing vocals that provide so much depth to this piece.  With that, the single wraps up and the listener is left once more breathless from the beautiful vocal and musical production talents from the individual artists.

Rating: 4/5

The Dawnseeker - Review

As a writer and DJ I'm presented with new music each day, scouring through so much of it and bypassing most after diligently listening to samples I spend a lot of time searching out great releases.  However, from the first minute I heard the first 30 seconds of a sample from this project I knew that this was something interesting and noteworthy. I browsed through the few selections available and each one was of this same quality sound, somewhere between Heavenly Voices ethereal and smooth trip-hop.  So now with the disc in my hands and hardly leaving my CD player to give other submissions a chance to be heard, it's a real treat, presenting thirteen excellent tracks including some covers and all talented vocals and beautiful underlying music and production.

This album is more than just Justin's intelligent songwriting and production skills put to the task, but also includes the talents of eleven excellent female vocalists.  It all starts out with "Eurydice", a mesmerizing and moving piece featuring Jody Quine on vocals.  This selection has easily become a favorite of mine with many ethereal and moodier, emotional elements of the story of this ancient tale.  This same vocalist lends her magic once again on the track "Tenuous", another piece along the lines of these same dreamy ethereal soundscapes.  Both of these pieces also appear as music videos on the artist's website, both fantastic video clips.  Blending well with these dreamy tapestries is "You Did A Good Thing" featuring Nicola Hitchcock lending her haunting vocals to the mix.  She drifts effortlessly along as the layered electronics provide the undercurrent and a perfect interwoven mix for this track.

The album isn't all dreamy ethereal textures, and out of a lack of time and space, every single track and guest vocalist won't be covered in this review.  Just after the first mellow track we're presented with some tribal rhythms and lush vocals on "Desire of Ages" featuring Harland as guest vocalist.  Then if you take into account the breakbeats and drum n' bass additions on the cover of "The Chauffer", you know this is going to have some nice diversity on it.  Although I found the breakbeats to be a little irritating and distracting from an otherwise good cover of this song, featuring Kirsty Hawkshaw on guest vocals.  Keeping things moving is another cover song, this one being "The Metro" with Jerri Eckert on vocals.  This track is a nice cover, while keeping some basic core elements of the original but really transforming it into smooth electronica.

Many frequent readers here will instantly recognize the name of Kyoko Boertsoen with her work with Lunascape which has received a positive reaction in the moodier electronic goth scene.  This talented vocalist lends her haunting voice to "Just Say It" which I think is one of the best tracks on the album, both from a club DJ perspective and a fan of beautiful ethereal music.  This becomes a new standard in Heavenly Voices for the new millenium and for many artists to look up to and strive for.  With plenty of great pieces in between, the album draws to a close with the french piece "Entre Ciel et Mer" with the smooth vocals of san.drine.  This a perfect ending to a nearly perfect album.

In summary, this sets the standard for projects such as these featuring talented musicians, production, mixing, vocals and songwriting.  The electronic music scene has just seen something great that crosses genre and sub-culture boundaries that fans won't want to miss.

Rating: 4.5/5

Label: Neurodisc Records - www.neurodisc.com

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