Uplifting melancholia: a brief history The Sleepless
Uplifting melancholia, direct from the dusty corners of life: a brief history
“A rich gritty soundscape”
Although London-based, The Sleepless started life on Merseyside where Martin Carroll (guitar) and Ronan O’Hanlon (drums) tuned into the sounds filtering through from Liverpool’s legendary Probe Records shop. Obscure 60s girl groups, 90s ambient, 4AD, Factory and freakbeat all infected their music. With no bass guitarist, they were free to develop the foundations of the Sleepless sound: a rich, gritty soundscape of spacious guitar, primitive sampling and devilish grooves, captured on a Tascam 688 cassette portastudio in a Southport attic. A sort of uplifting melancholia. It would eventually find a home as the sound of Stellar, a quintet formed by Martin and Ronan in mid-90s Liverpool.
4AD comes calling
Stellar rapidly established themselves on the Liverpool live circuit. Local fanzines embraced their ‘spacious, wirey guitar pop, heavy on mood, with a pervading aura of melancholy to cuddle up to’. Music Week agreed, featuring Stellar in the magazine’s One to Watch feature. Eventually, a self-produced demo, recorded at Liverpool’s Elevator Studios, reached Colin Wallace and Lewis Jamieson at 4AD. They signed Stellar to 4AD’s cult offshoot imprint Detox Artefacts and, consequently, the Stellar EP was released in October ’96. Gigs followed at the Liverpool Lomax, Manchester’s Night and Day and Hacienda, and London’s Disgracelands.
Lo-fi in London
A move to London signalled a change of direction, with Stellar going their separate ways. In 2009,
the Canada-based Division 68 label released “One Extended Moment”, a compilation of unreleased tracks by the band. Soon afterwards, Ronan and Martin launched The Sleepless. Alternate guitar tunings, spiced with arcane digital effects, became a rich source of new melodies and textures, underpinned by tape-saturated acoustic and electronic drums. Visit our Soundcloud page for a heady mix of spacious guitars, keyboard colours, intermittent radio voices, and devilish grooves.
Let The Sleepless ignite the spark to keep you going…