theAdelaidean: In the Key of Sleep (digital)

Product Description

1 Floating
2 Falling
3 Flying
4 Free
5 Flux
6 In the Key of Sleep

In the Key of Sleep’s hour-plus title track is a gentle, minimalistic-ambient hymn to the art of slumber, a practice that doesn’t come easily to everyone. An insomniac for most of his life, Australian composer theAdelaidean’s eighth Projekt release draws on a limited palette of sustained synthesized strings, rippling electric piano and muted bass that chart a course through tranquil harmonic progressions, via a series of subtle transformations and gently surprising abstractions, to sleep.

Getting to “In the Key of Sleep” is a journey in itself through five re-imaginings and remixes on the core theme, beginning with a self-contained homage to the perfect afternoon nap, “Floating,” an abbreviated reworking of one key moment from the larger work. A series of near-complete reinventions follow, the first of them “Falling,” its brittle, diamond-sharp synths evocative of the random detours our minds sometimes take before giving in to slumber. “Flying” follows, capturing through wide-spectrum sequencers and intermittent bass stabs the adrenaline rush of a good dream, rushing like a river over the events of the day. “Free” brings the listener/dreamer to a state of pure release, adrift against a soundtrack of cinematic ambience, avoiding both defined melodic statements and resolution alike. The final variation, “Flux,” concludes in a locus of complete separation from time and space, beyond consciousness, beyond thought. Here at the centre of sleep, there are no dreams, just a slow pulse of being.

The final track, concluding what is in effect a double album, brings all these elements together, patiently repairing the mind from its daytime travails.

In the Key of Sleep invites the listener to surrender to the inevitable, knowing that what awaits is both familiar and unpredictable. This state of mind is familiar to deep appreciators of ambient music, who use it as accompaniment to states both of higher consciousness and of unconsciousness. For theAdelaidean, this album is both an exploration of that tension and a cure for his own sleeplessness.

Projekt release: November 11, 2022


  1. Reviews Editor

    From Exposé
    Joint review of In the Key of Sleep and Hyperaurea

    Because of its calming and relaxing nature, much of the music that is available in the floating ambient genre is wonderfully suited as accompaniment for slumber. As a practitioner of this for a good 25 years now, I even find it difficult to reach the sleep plateau without those most gentle slowly-evolving sounds emanating from a nearby device, be it a stereo, computer, or even an open window on a warm summer night — a throwback to when I was a teenager living in the deserts of southern Callifornia — those singing crickets at night are positively hypnotic. Throughout the years, we have reviewed numerous releases where the composer has outright stated that the intention of their piece is to help the listener reach the sleep plane. Among these are Brannan Lane’s Sleep Cycle, any of a number of long-form pieces by Steve Roach (Darkest Before Dawn comes to mind immediately), and perhaps best known of all are those pieces by Robert Rich like Somnium and Perpetual, pieces that are so long (hours and hours) that they require a DVD or Blu-Ray to house the music on physical media. TheAdelaidean now offers his best effort with In the Key of Sleep, the title track which is one 65 minute long form piece of gentle electronic minimalism, plus five shorter pieces which are re-imaginings and remixes of portions of the the longer title track, with titles like “Floating,” “Falling,” “Flying,” “Free,” and “Flux” that could be played in that order or shuffled up any way you like. The important thing is that this music gets the job done, calming the nerves and clearing the mind; if it doesn’t then you’ve probably had too many espressos.

    The more recent release is Hyperaurea: Echoes of Antarctica, effectively a near-four hour program (although it seems it will only be available as a download for the time being), and it too is a floating ambient construction, maybe a little more gritty than In the Key of Sleep, and punctuated with more what might be termed distractions, but for the slumber-seeker, these three ‘discs’ will likely do the trick as well. The album’s three ‘discs’ are subtitled Echoes of Antarctica (seven tracks), Ghosts of the Ice (seven more tracks), and Southern Stars (one extended long-form piece, a little over an hour in length), fifteen cuts in all if one listens to them sequentially. The back story of this album is even more interesting: In early 2017 Sean Williams (who is theAdelaidean) travelled to Antarctica on an Australian Antarctic Division Arts Fellowship to Casey Research Station. Being one of the most unique and desolate environments on the planet, he wrote of the intense emotional, physical and spiritual experiences he gained during his time there. With Hyperaurea, he translates his experiences into ambient sounds using electronic drones, textures, and occasional piano to convey the sparse, dreamlike nature of life and death on a frozen world of ice. Definitely a unique experience to draw inspiration from, one that few recording artists might ever get a chance to know. The accompanying booklet (24 pages in pdf) contains a volume of information and photos, with stories and notes related to each track. Stark, extreme, and beautiful as it may be, Hyperaurea is a unique sonic experience. -Peter Thelen

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.