Gathering, The - Sleepy Buildings (A Semi-Acoustic Evening)

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8168-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 72:43:00

Sleepy Buildings is the 2004 mostly acoustic live release from The Gathering. What strikes one most in listing to this CD is not just the stripped down atmosphere given to songs from all through the Gathering catalog, but the vocals of Anneke Van Giersbergen. They are sweet, soothing, warm, and beautiful and at certain volumes are pretty much all you hear. But, you must turn this up because there are times where the backing instrumentation seems too quiet. And there are a lot of subtle things that the band - Hans Rutten (drums), René Rutten (guitars), Frank Boeijen (keyboards) and Hugo Prinsen Geerligs (bass) - are doing that aren't heard at more "normal" volumes.

I like the CD and think Van Giersbergen has an amazing voice - though it is far from perfect on each and every song here, not so far off the mark as to be a minus. But... it's a little too overall drowsy to warrant consistent listening. Pain Of Salvation tried the same thing - acoustic arrangements of their pieces - and came away with an excellent album. But then again, POS material is entirely mellow and ethereal. Thus, it makes you wonder why exactly this "stripped down" setting? Obligatory album? Filler? Well, it's too good to be mere filler, but not quite the release that stands entirely on its own.

The bulk of the material is from How To Measure A Planet (5 tracks), with one or two from each of the band's previous albums, including their first two (each of which originally featured a different vocalist). The album was recorded over two nights at the Lux Theatre in Nijmegen, Holland and begins with "Locked Away." It was a piece I didn't care for on How To Measure..., but do like in this acoustic setting. My criticism of How To Measure... was that everything sounded samey, and that is true pretty much here on Sleepy Buildings. The pieces employ a similar dynamic, though some aren't quite as sparse - the heartbreakingly emotional "The Mirror Waters" for example, one of my favorites here. And if it weren't for those more energetic pieces like, it might make for "sleepy people." Oh, of course, Van Giersbergen has a lulling and hypnotic voice, so don't listen while driving, you'll want to just close your eyes and loose yourself in her voice. That's a good thing... unless, as I say, you're driving. Another highlight for me is the more fuller arranged "Travel" (a piece that I liked from HTMAP as well). I like the power hinted at in the vocal delivery. Other favorites are "Stonegarden" (like "The Mirror Waters," from Always, their 1992 release) and "Eleanor" (from Mandylion) - what I like most about this is how Van Giersbergen's voice "unfolds"... it's the only way I can describe her performance here. And I do like "Marooned" as well.

"Red Is A Slow Colour" sounds at first a bit like David Bowie's "A Space Oddity" (mainly the strummed guitar (René Rutten) and sonic percussive effects (keys, I think; Frank Boeijen), but once Van Giersbergen begins singing, this thought evaporates (though reoccurs later during "Travel," as there is an ascending sonic effect that is so ... spacey). The piece ends darkly with a funeral piano phrase beneath lighter toned sheets of guitar, mid-tempo drums and emotive vocalizations from Van Giersbergen.

The CD also features a new track, the title track "Sleepy Buildings," a piano and vocal piece that has a bit of a 70s folk feel to it - Van Giersbergen's vocal delivery mainly. It's a piece with enough movement to not be a drowsy piece, but it is still quite mellow. And short at just about three minutes.

I'm not familiar enough with The Gathering to tell you how these tracks compare with their studio counterparts, even as most of them come from the one album - well, now one other album - that I've heard. While Sleepy Buildings is an enjoyable listen, the performance being rather good, it may just be a little too mellow to listen to frequently. Too much of a good thing isn't always a good thing, especially if it means you sound like you have a favourite effect that you recast in different settings. The Gathering's "effect" is Van Giersbergen's voice, and one you want to hear mix it up a bit. Perhaps that's why "Liberty Bell" (not included here) stood out on HTMAP. A live album should be where you take chances... and even though this was a concert (or concerts) with a theme, it just seems as The Gathering are playing it safe.

Locked Away (3:35) / Saturnine (4:54) / Amity (5:52) / The Mirror Water (6:41) / Red Is A Slow Colour (5:38) / Sleepy Buildings (2:55) / Travel (9:08) / Shrink (2:58) / In Motion Part Ii (4:30) / Stonegarden (V.2003) (5:11) / My Electricity (3:23) / Elenaor (5:32) / Marooned (5:31) / Like Fountains (6:46)

Frank Boeijen - keyboards & programming
Anneke van Giersbergen - vocals
Hugo Prinsen Geerligs - bass
Hans Rutten - drums & percussion
René Rutten - guitars

An Imaginary Symphony (rehersal tape) (1990)
Moonlight Archer (demo) (1991)
Always... (1992/1999)
Almost A Dance (1993/2000)
Mandylion (1995)
Nighttime Birds (1997)
How To Measure A Planet? (1998)
Superheat - A Live Album (2000)
If_Then_Else (2000)
Downfall - The Early Years (2001)
Black Light District (EP) (2002)
Souvenirs (2003)
Sleepy Buildings (A Semi Acoustic Evening) (2004)
Accessories (2005)
Home (2006)
A Noise Severe (2007)
Rise Up (2007)
Sand And Mercury (box set) (2008)
City From Above (EP) (2009)
The West Pole (2009)
A Sound Relief (EP) (2010)
Startled By The Familiar (2011)
Disclosure (2012)
Afterlights (2012)
Afterwords (2013)
TG25: Diving Into The Unknown (2015)
TG25: Live At Doornroosje (2015)
Blueprints (2017)

In Motion (DVD) (2002)
A Sound Relief (DVD) (2005)
A Noise Severe (DVD) (2007)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin NL

Added: May 16th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1365
Language: english


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