Release Date: Aug 6, 2013
Record label: Ninja Tune
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Most people dream of living by the sea, but for those who grew up in remote coastal towns, it's far from idyllic. These people know the stifling boredom of ghost-town winters, the crush of tourism in summer months and—most of all—the isolation and overwhelming feeling that the world is passing them by. Benjamin Stefanski, better known as Raffertie, was raised in such an environment and those difficult emotions are all present across Sleep Of Reason.
The perpetually evolving realm of electronic music provides plenty of opportunities for sonic development. Electronica producers such as Benjamin Stefanski, aka Raffertie, are able to morph, bend and shape their sounds however they see fit, rooted within a club based aesthetic but free to explore all manner of sonic possibilities. An example of how a producer can gradually evolve and change their sound comes in the form of Raffertie’s long awaited debut album Sleep Of Reason.
It's always interesting, when hearing an album for the first time, to be struck by an overwhelming sense of familiarity. Raffertie's debut full-length, Sleep of Reason, is a haunting mixture of melancholic nostalgia — a collection of calm build-ups that slowly, thoughtfully expand with subtle intricacy. Rich percussion and twisting synths pulse through "Gagging Order," the minimal instrumentation culminating in an unexpected melody of haunting minor keys.
Raffertie is the latest in a line of dance music producers to move to subtle and grown-up R&B-ish music. It feels strange in the London artist's case, however, because at the beginning of Benjamin Stefanski's career he was behind some of the zaniest dubstep of the genre's late-2000s boom. Tunes like "7th Dimension" made colourful pyrotechnics out of dubstep's skank, and even as he moved to house his penchant for larger-than-life sound design stuck around.
London-based producer Benjamin Stefanski used to be all about fidgety dance music: 2009’s ‘Wobble Horror’ had a nasty drive to it, and 2010’s ‘Rank Functions’ EP was gnarled and spiky. But it’s all change for this debut full-length. He says it’s about “coming to terms with our relative demons”, but ‘Sleep Of Reason’ sounds like straight-up heartbreak.
Having spent much of the past four years establishing himself as the go-to remixer for acts as diverse as Wolfgang, Wild Beasts and Franz Ferdinand, London-based electronic producer Raffertie has finally got his own shot at the limelight with the release of debut album ‘Sleep Of Reason’. And what a breathtaking debut it is. A beautiful, immersive combination of organic and synthetic sonic elements, opener ‘Undertow’ lays out the musical blueprint for much of what’s to follow.
Glitchy. A synonym for our musical times, though Raffertie (born Benjamin Stefanksi) knows how to deal with the tech that spawned it better than most. His 2011 Visual Acuity EP was high-octane electronic stuff, an incredibly promising start with a vivid, well defined sound. 2013 now marks his follow up and debut full-length Sleep Of Reason, which finds the London-based producer in much more philosophical repose – and that’s just the chiaroscuro album art.