Raffertie’s debut album, Sleep of Reason, is rich and full of yearning. Throughout the tracks, there are moments of panic, of serenity, of innocence and of strength. The task of creating a beautifully emotion-driven electronic album is a looming one, but Benjamin Stefanski’s Sleep of Reason is heartfelt in the most elegant of ways.
Sleep of Reason is blunt and minimalistic while being expressive—it’s got all of Shlohmo’s angst and austerity but with an added hopeful, almost comforting vibe. This is subtle R&B electronic music. Though lyrically stark, the few verses, repeated throughout their respective tracks, are unassuming but genius hooks to serve as frameworks of the album. This is most observable in “Touching,” where the line “and when we touch” first wavers over steady, heartbeat-like pulses and then winds through serene but sumptuous beats. The track continues into a perfect hurried panic and slows into a state of relief—the words “I can breathe” now being delicately emphasized.
This type of careful lyricism paired with the evocative bass lines, keyboard, and synth is a constant of Sleep of Reason. Because of such emotive sounds, this album almost seems to serve as an auditory diary—some tracks exuding a flustered urgency, some an unseemly boredom, and some a deep love. This love is found in single “Build Me Up,” the most easily listenable track of the album. This track is bold and poignant—the buzzing synth accompanied by delicate melodies and powerful, sad vocals.
While “Gagging Order” and “Window Out” are scattered and restless, and opening track “Undertow” a bit monotonous, second track “Rain” remedies this as it channels Raffertie’s inner James Blake and showcases a beautiful, climbing rhythm and tranquil, pleasantly depressing vibes. The most enigmatic track on Sleep of Reason, though, is “Trust” (ft. YADi). The pairing of Stefanski’s dramatic vocals paired with those of YADi is promising and simple and stunning.
Sleep of Reason is dance music at its most sophisticated. Raffertie still has a few wrinkles in his mostly smooth, expressive music, but has shown the potential he has for crafting sounds that are emotional and pure. Sleep of Reason is pain inducing, joy inducing, anxiety inducing, and modestly striking—definitely worth a listen.