The boundary between sleep and wakefulness has intrigued artists and thinkers for centuries, from Aristotle to Edgar Allan Poe to Richard Linklater in his popular 2001 film Waking Life. Most recently, the three musicians in Sunspot have been exploring hypnagogia, the mysterious bridge from "awake" to "asleep."
The Madison band's new song "Hypnogogic" takes this somewhat academic topic and fuses it with one of the most common themes in rock 'n' roll -- love gone wrong -- with lyrics such as "In the shadow of the moonlight / Is this the way to make things right / Or are you the core of my weakness?" These sentiments sound a bit like Poe himself -- if he were a modern-day emo kid.
Don't get the wrong idea: The band's more of a guitar-rock outfit than an emo project, going so far as to describe themselves as "the KISS of geek-rock and Van Halen for nerds." In other words, you're more likely to find them poring over psychology textbooks or smashing guitars, not weeping or dyeing their hair black.
It makes sense, then, that a listen to "Hypnogogic," from Sunspot's new album and DVD titled Singularity, is a trip into the world of both guitars and psychology, and an invitation for fans to partake in a discussion about consciousness and the mysteries of the brain.
"The moments where your dreams can intrude on your reality, we thought that would make an interesting theme for a song," says Mike Huberty, the band's bassist and vocalist. "We tried to texture the song sonically to make it feel like a dream. From softness and trippy-ness to violence, we tried to think of each part of the song as moving back and forth from different near-waking and near-dreaming states."
The approach also hearkens back to the early days of the band, which, according to Huberty, formed at the UW as "three geeks who just really loved hook-laden guitar rock with lyrics that celebrated the intelligence of the listener."
It also marks the band's evolution from straight-ahead guitar-rock into something that patches together guitars, bits of electronica and the sounds of melodies sung in unison.
An MP3 of "Hypnogogic" is available in the related downloads section at right. More music by Sunpot is available on itsMySpace page, its library of songs is available for free download at Bandcamp, and notes on its music-making process are available on their Loser of the Year blog and podcast. For a live rendition of the song, check out the band's next performance -- a release party for the new album and accompanying DVD of music videos they've made over the past year -- at Madison Avenue on Friday, June 12.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.