April 19, 2012 by hhbrady
As of the date of my submission, there’s no downloadable content available from Sleep. Which means I have to stream it to hear it at all.
It’s not like the album’s called Dopesmoker, or anything… that implies one would do well to listen to this one NOT chained via headphones to their computer….
Fine! I’ll stream it! Anything to just hear it!
Because I am a whore for Sleep! And Southern Lord in general! I even bought a freaking Sleep shirt for my wife, who doesn’t even like metal! And she wears it! And gets compliments on it! And then says, “It’s his.”
Even though I have the first two iterations of Dopesmoker (Jerusalem and Dopesmoker), I am (quite figuratively) dying to hear this one– it’s remastered, there’s Arik Roper’s new stoner-via-Dune esque cover, there’s crazy anecdotes about the recording of the album, e.g.:
Pike stated that the “song was getting slower and slower and then it got weird. We started tripping out and second guessing ourselves.” Recording the album was difficult. Pike recalled that “there was so much to memorize for that album, and we had to do it in like three different sections because a reel-to-reel only holds 22 minutes. It was really cool, but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in in my life.” SLEEP were in the studio for one month then went home to rehearse and returned for another month. Pike noted that they ended up with two or three different versions of the song.
It also features an unreleased live recording of a live performance of “Holy Mountain” from San Francisco’s I-Beam in 1994.
When Racer sent this to me I was literally listening to the older version of Dopesmoker on the stereo. It’s fate/ kismet/ karma/ destiny….
Ironically, there is no weed with probably a quarter mile of me. Interpolate as is your wont, my minions. You may find this fact journalistically-dishonest (Pike and co. have said repeatedly that Dopesmoker was written to be heard while stoned), but I feel I must fully disclose.
I’ve heard this new version a dozen times now: the first thing you notice is that the riff entering at around 0:15 is much clearer and louder. I don’t really know that much about remastering, mastering, et cetera, and maybe they’ve only made it louder, but I can actually hear the pick hitting the strings, whereas on the version of Dopesmoker I’m familiar with, it’s a bit harder to pick that out. At this point, I want both versions of Dopemoker on vinyl, at jet-engine volume, to truly try and parse the differences between the two editions.
Of course, my lineage is mostly German and Scandinavian, a notoriously-detail-oriented/obsessive people, and I personally am anal-retentive as fuck, so maybe I’m overdoing things.
Again: interpret as is your wont.
At about 21:30, once everything but the main riff drops out, you can again hear the strings over-vibrating against the pickup… which is pretty cool. I feel like I’m standing right next to the band in a small room without carpeted floors.
The lyrics, too, are a bit more clear: the first line “Drop out of life with bong in hand” is easier to understand, as is the classic, “Lungsmen unearth the creed of Hasheeshian.”
Man. That’s some obscure poetic shit that Rimbaud, William Burroughs, Baudelaire, Rumi and Kerouac would find obtuse.
How can you not love that?
If nothing else, the reissue reiterates why it’s such a great record (if you truly let it in, stoned or not)– it just comes in and sweeps itself through your brain, it says to you we have all the time in the world, let’s use it thinking of far-away lands that before this record you found impossible to believe existed….
If you already have the old version of Dopesmoker? If you’re really into it, you’ll wanna check this out. Otherwise, stick with the old version. Tune in, turn on, burn out, daddy-o….
[Southern Lord records' Deluxe Reissue of Sleep's Dopesmoker is released internationally on May 8, 2012.]