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If anyone ever needed proof that The Gathering could perform live and aren't just a studio act which receives a lot of help in making top notch records due to excellent equipment, then here it is. 'Sleepy Buildings' is a semi-acoustic live performance from Holland, or The Netherlands. This live performance took my breath away. Before hearing this, I didn't think it was at all possible for The Gathering to pack more emotion into their full-lengths, but this proved me wrong.
When turned up loud enough, you get the feeling as if you're there, watching The Gathering perform their magic in front of a huge audience. The great thing, well, one of the great things about The Gathering is, they have a remarkable ability to be able to pull individuals out of a packed crowd and make it seem as if they're performing solely for you and your hearts content. Recording a live performance and putting on a disc is a risk. It's something that leaves The Gathering totally exposed to criticism and mistakes. However, having said that, you cannot fully tell this is a live performance until the crowd shows their appreciation at the end of each song. It does have the feeling of a live performance, but it's so well done, that you'd think it was recorded and improved upon later. That isn't the case.
The Gathering have chosen their song selection carefully for 'Sleepy Buildings'. It's a rollercoaster of a live performance. Emotion is rife, that much can be heard. The fact that it's an acoustic performance makes this even more special. I've always thought acoustics sound different to anything else. They add a different sense of emotion to the proceedings. They add a depth that cannot be achieved by anything else. The use of additional instruments like the melancholy piano are fantastic. The use of such instruments gives the audience a sense of how well The Gathering prepare their live sets. The fact that a huge amount of preparation seems to have gone into 'Sleepy Buildings' is a positive. One can obviously see that this band are intent of giving a fantastic performance every single time they play in front of others.
"My emotional outlet
is consuming the better part of me"
These lyrics could easily be muttered by members of the audience. The emotional aspect of The Gathering consumes us all. Their experimentation has taken them to all new highs. The sky is the limit as far as musical experimentation is concerned. The Gathering have produced a flowing sound of fantastic proportions 'Sleepy Buildings'. It's a live album that really does showcase this bands ability to stage a show. There is obviously a lot of heart that goes into making every performance count. This can easily be seen just by taking Anneke's vocals into account. Her beautiful voice is just as perfect live as it is when it's recorded in a studio. Every element of The Gatherings work is finely tuned and well executed. There are no mistakes to be found here, so if you're looking to criticise something, best look elsewhere.
As I said, Anneke's voice is on it's game. She produces a worthy performance. She never falters, she never slips up. Her voice is carried over the crowd by the waves of the majestic acoustic riffs. The very thought of bass being overshadowed is eliminated from the mind very early on. Every instrument used on this live album has a prominent role. From the keyboards, to the percussion. Everything has a specific role and everything does what it sets out to do. Creating an overwhelming sense of raw emotion.
'Sleepy Buildings' is probably the best live recording I have ever heard.
Looking over the evolution this band has performed throughout their career, sooner or later they had to come up with an album of this kind. A semi-accoustic album which takes them to the top of the atmospheric gothic music and shows why they are one of the most important musical references of the last decade.
A compilation of their greatest hits played live at the Lux Theatre in their home city of Nijmegen, it gives us the chance to hear these songs under a different point of view, as in late albums electronics had gained much importance. However, this obstacle has been cleverly solved by the band.
The first two songs “The Mirror Waters” and “Stonegarden” from their debut album, have suffered from a great change being barely recognizable but nevertheless sounds great, and still conserve the darkness and deepness as the originals, just as in third track
The same goes for “Like Fountains” from their second album (Almost a Dance). Anneke, actual singer, was in none of these two albums, as she entered the group in 1994 on their third album “Mandylion” of which they chose “Eléanor” and “In Motion part II” to play on this album. Also changed and very elaborated changes in order to be adapted to a semi-accoustic.
The album with most songs chosen is "How to Measure a Planet", their 5th long play, where the evolution of the band is ever so more clear, leaving the more obscure era of doom or gothic into the atmospheric kind of composition. These songs “Travel”, “Red is a slow colour” “My Electricity” “Marooned” and “Locked away” are of great beauty and frailness in their sound, and the band has managed to enhance those feelings by means of the arrangements to them, very well blended indeed.
The album is completed with “Saturnine” and “Amity” from “If Then Else” and a previously unreleased song, “Sleepy Buildings” which gives the album it’s name.
Anneke Von Giersbergen’s voice just captivates one’s attention, drawing patterns and melodies in a way that one needs to carry on listening to her. Her control of the voice is incredible, and gives the group a wide range of different emotions. She sounds sad, exhausted, loving, dark, light, whatever she wants.
This album is in short, a must have for anyone who likes music. At risk of probably being boring, they have created one of the live albums of the year. The best album I bought this month.