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Sleep Safari
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  • As its title suggests, Sleep Safari is an exploration of the workings of the unconscious mind. Considering how his mix of psychedelia and electronic pop automatically evokes altered states of consciousness (or in this case, unconsciousness), it's a subject that's almost too perfect for Nick Nicely, and he delivers some of his most abstract, surreally vivid music. While 2014's Space of a Second picked right up from his cult-favorite work in the '80s, Sleep Safari blends the trippiest parts of his music with the dance leanings of his '90s projects. The slinky beats that underpin these psychedelic collages add to the disorienting feel as Nicely shifts from "Solar Wind"'s rippling keyboards and twangy guitars to the fusion of pizzicato strings and reggae beats on "Gliding (Call Centre Splendour)" to the harpsichords that grace "Dance Away." Nicely blankets the wild instrumentation in his distinctively foggy production, which adds to Sleep Safari's dream logic as it blends things together in a way that feels natural, if not exactly predictable. The few moments when the album coalesces into pop -- as on the wistful "London South 2 [Grasscut Remix]," the weightless "Ghostdream," and the beautifully soft and sultry "Rainmaker" -- give the album cohesion that doesn't diminish its strangeness, and provide gateways for Nicely's wilder flights of fancy. Occasionally, songs such as "Souvenir" and "Heavens Kate" feel a little overstuffed even by their creator's maximalist standards, and like dreams, the album tends to fall apart if examined too closely instead of letting its drifting sonics work their transporting magic. Nevertheless, Sleep Safari is a fascinating dream suite from an artist who remains one of a kind. ~ Heather Phares
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