The Gathering

Sleepy Buildings: A Semi Acoustic Evening

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Sleepy Buildings will serve to fuel the dichotomy amongst the Gathering's fans: those who appreciate the increasingly ambient and subtle direction in which the Dutch outfit moved with If_Then_Else and Souvenirs, and detractors who believe the band peaked with the doomy, metallic, and melodic strains of Mandylion and Nighttime Birds. So this collection, recorded live at the LUX Theatre in Nijmegen, Holland, reinterprets older songs -- three of them, "The Mirror Waters," "Stonegarden," and "Like Fountains" reaching as far back as Always and Almost a Dance, released prior to siren singer Anneke van Giersbergen's recruitment -- minus electric guitars and with an increased emphasis on piano and keyboards. The most attractive aspect of Sleepy Buildings is its showcasing of Van Giersbergen's heavenly voice, which is front and center in the mix, although some lengthy "trip rock" instrumental excursions dominate a few tracks (including "Travel" and "Red Is a Slow Colour"). Completists should also note that the piano ballad title track is previously unreleased, even if it feels incomplete arrangement-wise, and is almost needlessly stripped-down. Thus Sleepy Buildings fits nicely into the Gathering's latter-day, less-metallic catalog, although critics may find the title all too appropriate.

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