The Gathering - _Sleepy Buildings: A Semi-Acoustic Evening_
(Century Media, 2004)
by: James Slone (9 out of 10)
_Sleepy Buildings_ is a little something Anneke and the boys threw together during a live performance in the summer of 2003. An album in its own right, it's essentially a collection of mellow, laid back renditions of classic songs from their back catalog. Described as a "semi-acoustic evening", it eases the listener into the material with cozy, piano-heavy arrangements and a friendly, nearly empathic vocal performance by Anneke. The decision to release a retrospective with new arrangements was an inspired choice, and one that has more than paid off. Old songs are discovered again; new meanings, sounds, and colors discovered in compositions I thought I knew and understood intimately. The Gathering have a fairly loud history, but it's clear now that there's always been a little night music in their sound.

Some of my favorite cuts are from _Always_, one of my most beloved doom/death albums and a teenage favorite; here, a few key songs are reborn as gentle chamber rock pieces -- and they work perfectly. "Stonegarden" is perhaps my favorite Gathering song ever in its original form, and hearing it again like this is a real treat -- the lyrics might shock casual listeners who never realized how bittersweet and beautiful a song it was beneath the bellowing death growls. The other highpoint is the _Madylion_ material, once dense and heavy, and now softly atmospheric. These songs retain their hard driving quality, but sound more open and spacious. They breathe. The newer songs sound more like their originals, with instrumentation and arrangement very similar to what the band is doing presently.

For those of you who love The Gathering but don't want a simple compilation of the same old material (and for those of you who could never bring yourself to listen to the pre-Anneke albums), _Sleepy Buildings_ comes highly recommended. Listening to this, I feel like I’ve discovered an old friend hiding in plain sight.


(article published 20/1/2005)

1/16/1999 D Rocher The Gathering: A Gathering in Perpetual Motion
5/29/2003 P Azevedo 8 The Gathering - Souvenirs
8/12/2000 A Bromley 9.5 The Gathering - if_then_else
1/16/1999 P Azevedo 7 The Gathering - How to Measure a Planet?
8/12/1997 A Wasylyk 8 The Gathering - Nighttime Birds
6/7/1997 P Azevedo 9 The Gathering - Nighttime Birds
2/9/1996 G Filicetti 8 The Gathering - Mandylion
3/13/2001 C Flaaten The Gathering / Pale Forest Sirens Singing Soothing Songs
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