Everyone loves going to sleep. If you’ve had a long, exhausting day, nothing feels better than the moment your head rests upon a pillow. However, as much as we all love sleep, not often do we consider the act of falling asleep. Drifting off to sleep is a scientific process, which involves changes in your brainwaves, a gradual loss of consciousness, and much more. I’m sure you’ve had the fascination of “dreaming” during this process, where normal ideas shift into the ethereal and often bizarre. Whatever you choose to think about during this time, it’s very difficult to remember it once you become aware of what you’re doing. How do you know what your mind is truly thinking about, working on, or processing as you fall asleep if you can never remember it? This is a question that most people can’t answer, but Glasgow Coma Scale can.
RELEASE DATE: 12 December 2016 LABEL: Fluttery Records
Enter Oblivion, the debut album from the German post-rock outfit Glasgow Coma Scale, features seven songs that were all initially formed as the band members began counting sheep. Somewhere along the way, they decided that if the song idea they had is worth using, they would softly sing the melodic phrases through voice recorders and cellphones as they laid in bed. So when you listen to the album, remember that these song ideas weren’t formed with focus and attention-it is actually the exact opposite. These songs were formed with a lack of focus and a lack of attention, and that is an innovative feat. A lack of focus when it comes to songwriting sounds lazy, perhaps, but these songs prove that our brains are always active (and often creative) even if we aren’t, and Glasgow Coma Scale provide plenty of physical evidence for this idea.
The album is about as “out there” as you can imagine, but its simultaneous grounded feeling is a great factor as to why it’s so enjoyable. When you progress through the album, you get a hearty mix of trippy electronic effects and loops as well as focused, technical instrumentation. Take “Southern Crosses” for example. The track features hallucinogenic guitar effects and a synthesized atmosphere, but as the song forms, the direct and pummeling climax is all but dream-like. It is a perfect simulation of what happens when we begin the stages of sleeping, which begins with complete awareness and ends up with none. “Venice Calling” showcases this contrast exceptionally as well when it features a psychedelic guitar chirping paired with an attentive, upbeat bass line. Glasgow Coma Scale are committed to their work, and Enter Oblivion’s subtle beauties are the driving force behind repeated listens.
This album would not be a success if the concept itself wasn’t tirelessly refined and developed; Glasgow Coma Scale transformed their idea into something interpretable and valid, and because of this it begs to be explored with each consecutive listen. The idea that you can get locked in a particular train of thought is presented in the reappearing guitar motif found on “Northern Wastes” and “Birthland”. The dichotomy that we can be attentive in one second and unaware in the next is a focus of every song, and as a whole the album actually feels like it is entering oblivion. Even the artwork-specifically the contrast of the cocooned insect and butterfly-details how active and open our minds are when we are just resting. Every aspect of this album is calculated, and perhaps the only thing that wasn’t calculated were the roots of the songs themselves.
This is more than an album, it is a pseudo-scientific experiment detailed through music. This album is about self-exploration and the unity of ideas, all formed when the band members were wrapped in blankets. Enter Oblivion is a taste of what’s left unknown from our conscious awareness, shedding light on the potential our brain has when it is at its most “passive” state. Enter Oblivion is a concept we take for granted, and I am thrilled that Glasgow Coma Scale were able to present a shared phenomenon dedicated to the beauty of falling asleep.