Genre - Hard Rock / Alternative
Label - Pledge Music / Self Released
01 - The Man Who Couldn't Sing
02 - In Your dreams
03 - A Shot To The Head
04 - All I Have To Do
The Sleeper Must Awaken completes the set of three Ep's to be released to accompany the forthcoming new album (set to drop later this month!), from The Scaramanga Six. (Exclusive to the albums Pledge campaign!)
Now before we get started, lets allow the band to tell us about the songs in their own words:
"1. THE MAN WHO COULDN’T SING
A frequent and furious visitor to our live set of late (noted as ‘Manhoo’ on our setlists), this tune was also first aired on the ‘Scenes of Mild Peril’ DVD last year. You may instantly get the James Bond references in the chromatic three-up-one-down phrase played by the strings in key moments of the song, as well as the title which suggests a contender for the next movie theme – it’s an area of pastiche we have plundered before of course with Julia’s ‘The Man With The Perfect Aim’ from our very first album back in 1999, only this time we’ve gone at it four to the floor, summoning the spirit of The Stranglers ‘Raven’ era for inspiration and desired levels of wanton intensity.
The song deals with a recurring nightmare faced by our Paul, and probably by many a singer/musician – the one of taking to the stage only to find yourself woefully unprepared, dogged with technical issues, just plain late or in this case physically unable to sing. It’s the classic subconscious fear of failure rearing its ugly head. You know when you are due to play the guitar for your very favourite heroic band only to discover you don’t know any of the songs and your instrument has transformed into a slimy bundle of guts – that.
2. IN YOUR DREAMS
A song from the point of view of the ghoulish figure of your nightmares now. This spectre wants to soothe you with a lullaby before doing unspeakable things to your sleeping body, probably with rusty hooks or something. To represent this, Paul finger-picks an acoustic which is accompanied by a distant celeste fluctuating between minor and major chords while he whispers a smooth baritone – and you are under. We then get all Phil Spector (without the actual murdering of course) on your asses when the drums kick in – pretty much ripping off ‘The Sun Aint Gonna Shine Anymore’ by The Walker Brothers, complete with additional tambourine along with Gareth’s enormous kit sound.
The bass is muted (a technique used by us more and more these days) to give it extra 60’s feel – later on at the end of the song, this is joined by a second bass part made from a watery chorus that is the only on-board effect on Steve’s Peavey TNT combo amp. He’s had that amp for about 22 years and this has been the one and only occasion to press that button in a studio.
The magnificent Suzuki Q-Chord makes another appearance in this song – you’ll have heard this twinkly sound in previous songs such as ‘I Wear My Heart on my Sleeve’ & ‘The Collector’. The box for it says “0 to Musician in 60 seconds” – that’s fine by us. Other musical highlights of this fabulous recording are the distant backing vocals reminiscent of Bowie’s ‘The Supermen’ and Paul’s tremendous twangy guitar solo after the middle bit. Hopefully a few shivers have been sent down your spine.
3. A SHOT TO THE HEAD
Continuing in a strangely understated fashion for The Scaramanga Six, Gareth kicks this one off with a subtle drum intro featuring his ‘rimshot’ again, the dirty bastard. Paul & Julia’s guitars syncopate with each other during each phrase which is answered by a solemn low note on the piano. This tune was originally in the short-list for the batch of songs we were to take over to Chicago for ‘Phantom Head’, but for some reason didn’t make the cut – probably for the best now, because we think Lord Alan Smyth has done a particularly fine job on this spooky version.
Steve takes up vocal duties for this one, again almost whispering the first few phrases following the sound montage of screaming and scraping noises. The song is clearly about chronic insomnia – that horrible time when you ‘miss the boat’ of slumber. Sometimes the futile attempts at trying to sleep can lead you into a weirder state of mind than the dreams you encounter when you are actually asleep. A mix of repetitive mental somersaults, twitching bodies and the need to not disturb the household over what seems like an aeon can drive you insane – enough to want to be put out of your misery.
Musical magpie moments in this one – the piano line after each chorus is lifted from ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ by Bacharach/David and there are definite elements of classic Fall in the dirgy verse after chorus 1.
4. ALL I HAVE TO DO
This one was written during the band’s brief tenure as The B-52’s tribute act ‘Mock Lobster’ using exactly the same weird guitar tuning as Ricky Wilson uses on ‘Private Idaho’. We decided to give it the full treatment to sound like Athens GA’s finest with simple & driving drums, tambourine, bass parts played on a synth and of course a cheesy Farfisa organ. The only thing missing is the barking drawl of Fred Schneider and the sweet harmonies of Kate/Cindy.
The subject matter still concerns sleep in a way, only this time the metaphorical ‘sleeping’ that occurs during a sexual liaison. The song is sung from the perspective of one who sells their services to the sleazy and desperate."
Well what more can I add,
The Man Who Couldn't Sing is a great little melodic rocker, and its bond-esque theme's throughout really do add something to this song, giving it that little extra magic. I have to admit that this is one of my favourite songs, and in my opinion one of the best songs that the band have ever released!
In Your Dreams, is a softer almost haunting track, similar in style to The Scaramanga classic, Horrible Face. Another great song that gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end.
A Shot To The Head, another future Scaramanga classic, a nice melodic song that builds and builds throughout, building a great atmosphere as it goes!
All I Have To Do, is probably the rockiest track on the EP. A great little song with a stop start riff.
So once again The Scaramanga Six deliver a brilliant EP in the form of The Sleeper Must Awaken, probably the most rounded set of four tracks from all three EP's. Now I just cant wait for the new album!
Very Highly Recommended!
Rating - 10/10