You have to hand it to Patrick Heaney and Aaron Blomberg. Two-thirds of the late '00s electro group Shark Attack, the two musicians could have easily coasted the rest of their careers crafting aggressive bangers for the wide-eyed, Molly-popping club kids. Instead, we have Tiny Telephones, an instrumental post-rock project with a rotating cast that specializes in sweeping, cinematic songs that sound as if they're pulled straight from a Peter Berg-directed sports doc. The 2012 EP, The Heavenly Child, was a nuanced introduction to the project, but sounded all too familiar after repeated listening.
The Sleep of a Dreamer, however, should serve as the record where Heaney and company really find their groove. "He Was the Torch Driving the Savages Back Into the Woods," despite it's rather metal-esque title, is one of the most touching tracks on the record. Starting out with two overlapping keyboard sequences, the song moves and grows like ivy, with instruments popping up one at a time only to fully engulf the listener once they're all combined. The single "The Colors Here Are Not Right" spends the majority of its time building up to something the audience knows is coming, but isn't sure what, exactly, that plot twist will be. The winning touchdown? The final battle? The hero rising in victory? That first kiss?
The climaxes and pay-offs don't come easy and are often unexpected on The Sleep of a Dreamer. It's a testament to the maturity of the musicians involved that they've learned when to hold back on tracks like "Take My Legs and Stand Up For Me" and "His First Dream That Shattered the Earth." All too many rock bands blow their wad too early, letting a song build only to have that crescendo morph into a jumbled zenith that can sometimes make the listener feel smothered. Ethereal yet epic, grandiose but subtle, Tiny Telephones have managed to bypass many of the instrumental trappings and craft sweeping scores of sound that make you want to change the world. It's transcendent instrumental rock that understatedly taps into the warrior angels of our nature.