Piano Sunday is Ric Mills, a talented and successful composer and pianist from Sydney Australia. Loyal readers of The Static Dive will recognize his name. Ric’s albums “Profoundly Piano” and “Found” were two of the first reviews published here over a year ago. Since then, the prolific artist has released a half dozen more full length albums. Each record is an exploration of a theme.
On “Sleep Cycle,” Ric delves deeply into both the scientific and metaphysical as he takes us into the recesses of our own minds. The ambient record flows chronologically and thematically through the human circadian sleep cycle. Mills is a skilled musician and composer by any measure. However, his ability to connect viscerally to listeners through music is a unique talent that transcends technical prowess. “Sleep Cycle” is an immersive piece of work that blurs the lines between music and thought, day and night, dreams and reality.
The first thing I noticed about “Sleep Cycle” was its run-time of one hour and forty-four minutes. It is not coincidental that a normal human sleep cycle runs just under two hours. The album is structured with that in mind. The titles of the record’s 25 tracks match the various stages of the cycle. It moves from wakefulness through light sleep, mid sleep, deep sleep, the dream sequence and then backwards again through the cycle to daylight.
The record opens on a simple acoustic piano chordal riff. As we drift from a waking state into light sleep, the music builds on that theme into an ethereal synth landscape. Although the record is split into separate tracks, the names are really only there as a guide. Just as in actual sleep, the borders between the cycle’s stages are loosely defined.
Strings and keys fade in and out and subtle tempo changes gradually slow the heart rate, and the mind. By mid sleep additional layers are added to the mix. Did I hear some sampled vocals? Maybe, though that may have been my hypnagogic mind playing tricks on me. In deep sleep the music becomes less structured. Low visceral tones seem to resonate from the psyche. We are drawn into the haze of our own subconscious.
During the dream sequence the music is more cinematic and melodic. The piano and string arrangements sound like the score to a love story. It’s a nice dream. Synths, harp and piano take alternate turns in the lead role. Once the dream has ended we begin to roll backwards through the cycle. As though emerging from a cave, the music finds its way out of the deep recesses of our minds. The record moves slowly back to consciousness until we end on the riff that started it all.
You can hear “Wakefulness No 1” on the Deep Indie Chill playlist. However, I recommend you cue up the entire Piano Sunday album “Sleep Cycles” the next time you lie down for a nap. Follow the links below to connect with Ric Mills. Stay in the loop on all of his current and future Piano Sunday releases.