Exploded View is the project of Annika Henderson, Hugo Quezada, and Martin Thulin, a trio adept at crafting elusive, haunting music that seeps into your subconscious. They recently announced their sophomore album Obey, and it wasn’t uncommon to see references to sleep or dream logic in the way people discuss Exploded View’s new work. But that’s not to suggest Exploded View is anything like dream-pop. Their hard-to-classify aesthetic is more unnerving, born not from when dreams create lush escapes but from when dreams force you to walk through doors you’d prefer to leave closed.
Obey was recorded in Quezada and Thulin’s studio in Mexico City, with Henderson traveling in from Berlin. Upon its initial announcement, the group shared “Raven Raven,” a darkly psychedelic incantation of a first single. Today, they’re back with another new one called “Sleepers.” And appropriately enough for a band that operates in the more shadowy corners of the mind, they also shared an impressionistic quote about the track:
Break free and fly above the clouds outside the lines that we were told were good for us. Free yourself from your own prison. Remove the shackles of fear to find that the unknown is not so scary and can be full of precious discoveries (sometimes only possible during sleep). A constant trip comes to an abrupt and unresolved ending with the collapse and eerie shriek of the Arp Solina.
When speaking about the title of Obey, Exploded View’s members have talked about the systems of society, how they impact and mold people’s behavior and thoughts. Their quote gets at the album’s core ideas, but it also captures certain aspects of “Sleepers,” a song that very much feels as if it’s flying above the clouds, but is still looking down on desolation from that vantage point. The song glides along on an eerie synth line — at times inviting but then always threatening to take a turn into more discomfiting directions — while Henderson’s voice settles into this place where anxiety and fear and wonder seem to coexist. It’s a strange, beautiful composition, and you can check it out below.