Deftones singer Chino Moreno’s long delayed side project with a colorful cast of acquaintances, Team Sleep’s peaceful and soothing self-titled debut on Maverick gives off the same vibe as a Sade record as Moreno and crew croon over deep beats, honeyed guitar work and engaging atmospherics.
Featuring Zach of Hella and the underrated DJ Crook, this little collective have been trying to put out a record for about five years now. After scrapping and rescrapping material, the end result of years of work and probably more years of hype is truly something interesting.
It’s almost impossible to avoid the comparison with the Deftones, so let’s just get it over with. Imagine a more relaxed, beat-driven White Pony, with the same sexy feel. But Chino isn’t the only frontman on this record; other vocal contributions are made and Moreno barely appears on some of the almost instrumental tracks—adding whispers and screams buried in the mix.
“Ataraxia,” the driving electronica opener, sets the tone with rich arrangements and a trip-hop/drum n’ bass modus operandi.The possible leadoff lullaby of “Ever (Foreign Flag)” plays like a score to lustful stripping. “Blvd Knights,” the most Deftones-esque song on the record with its frenetic and inventive drum work and clean power chords, displays Moreno vocalizing over the bridge before coming back into the sing-along chorus.
The instrumental tracks, such as the mostly DJ Crook designed “Staring At The Queen” and the guitar ballad of “Delorian” provide a break from the homogenous nature of Team Sleep. On the other end, a male-female duet appears in the form of “King Diamond,” in a hip-hop-influenced style that stands out despite its lack of, well, King Diamond.
A strong and well-developed record that will certainly turn a few heads this year, Team Sleep may further divide the Deftones fan base, but they always seem to pick up new ones along the way. Think of it as this year’s Head Automatica record through a White Pony-era Deftones viewfinder.