I think this is one of the first times I've used the word 'masterpiece' since we've started this website, and to be honest, I feel that it's appropiate to call this work a masterpiece. Sleepstep is one of the best contemporary ambient albums I've heard in a while. It perfectly combines the original lengthy soundscapes with a present day electronic setting. At times it nudges toward the intelligent dance music of Autechre or the proto-ambient of Bioshpere.
After the intro, the album starts with an eerie cabaret-like song, 'Dance With Edgar Poe'. This is probably the strangest track on the album. All of the songs do have quite a gloomy atmosphere, like dreams that are not nightmares but still a bit ghostly. Some songs, like 'Abandoned Beauties and Beasts' drive on some odd electronic percussion. Others, like 'Scratching your Surface (Revisited)' come very close to trip-hop. Here and there vocals are used, both in French and English, giving the songs an eighties darkwave feel.
The sixteen pieces on this album are miniature compositions and sound collages with an intense soothing and dreamy effect. At times electronic percussion offers an abstract sense of rhythm. When vocals are used - mostly as spoken word passages - they reinforce the alienating atmosphere of the pieces. Another reinforcing element is the presence of sounds that usually only belong in the world of techno and house. However, Dasha Rush succeeds in keeping them at a controlled level. On '100 Hearts' this results is an amazing trance piece without beats.
The most surprising aspect is the organic feel of the tracks. Though nearly everything is created, or modified, electronically, they stand out in being unpredictable. Not only within the songs but also as a whole there's plenty of different elements and sounds to create an impressive amount of variation. It's almost as if Dasha Rush created musical foundations on which the songs themselves can play and alter. As if they are live beings.
So yes, you guessed it. This is an oustanding ambient/electronics album wherein Dasha Rush aligns herself with the pioneers of modern day electronic dance music. I highly recommend this album, that's for sure. I'm going to stop writing about it and get my ass over to my terrace to enjoy the sun and this CD a little more...