The surprising thing about Sleet is how warm it sounds, considering its title. This is the second winter-themed release from My Home, Sinking, both released in May, when garlands and dances around the maypole are more in fashion. Instead of capturing the feeling of sleet, it captures the feeling of sleet outside when all is safe and warm inside, a group of friends trading stories in dialogue and lyrical song while softly playing the instruments they have brought to the house.
The lineup has changed slightly since the self-titled debut. This is still Enrico Coniglio’s baby, but apart from Coniglio, only Katie English (cello) appears on both works. Their interplay still counts for a uniformity of sound. But new moments stand out here, especially those in which one or two instruments act in twain: the guitar and vibraphone, joined by light drums on “Chains”; the field recordings, vinyl crackle and plucks of “Carnival”, the most sleet-sounding track on the cassette. In these moments, the release brings to mind Plinth’s Wintersongs, although that release was entirely instrumental. “Come to my lip and sink in the sea”, whispers Natalia Drepina later in the track: a gentle siren.
When the electric organ and flute duet on the title track, the feeling is one of intense peace. Drepina shares a gentle tale, then steps back to allow the music to take center stage. “Sheperd’s” is a bit stranger: “he’s a boy, 13 years old, and he still can’t count.” This allusive song ultimately becomes a tale of mercy and understanding. Odder still is the end of Side A, the only point at which the collection seems ready to go off the rails, with field recordings that sound like a series of snores. But after repeated plays, it all begins to make sense; after all, winter is the time of hibernation, while spring sleet is snow trying desperately to be rain.
Sleet is an extremely personal release, available only in a small run of 60, which is why we’re publishing this review a bit early; the cassettes will go on sale in two days. These letterpressed beauties include two cards and a small bundle of twigs. My twigs look painfully sharp, but are sealed in an envelope so as not to harm. The same may be true of the season, filled with thorns yet devoid of flowers. Only by wrapping them in music can we tame their propensity for harm. But then we realize that they, too, are only protecting their own. [Richard Allen]