Arms and Sleepers release "Matador" 10.7

Arms and Sleepers (Mirza Ramic and Max Lewis) release Matador next week
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based ambient duo Arms and Sleepers obviously aren’t from West Virginia. But they have swung through, and we were lucky enough to catch them at The Empty Glass a few years back.

Since then, they’ve been one of our favorite acts, as we’ve slowly compiled a small collection of their releases, from Bliss Was it in That Dawn To Be Alive, their limited edition EP, and most recently The Motorist, Mirza Ramic and Max Lewis’ musical output has been in steady rotation in the WVRockscene home stereo.

Now, together for just four years, after touring all over the U.S. and Europe and receiving wide critical acclaim, as the duo is set to release Matador next week, and nationwide in mid-November, Ramic and Lewis said they’re looking forward to getting it out and going on tour.

“We’ve been working on this record for a long time, and it feels good to finally release it and play some of these songs live for the first time,” Ramic said.

While not a whole lot has changed with their daily lives, Lewis described the renewed focus that helped forge the new 10-song release.

“Our circumstances have been fairly similar to those surrounding the makings of Black Paris 86 and The Motorist, the only real difference being that we were able to dedicate ourselves more fully to the writing process in the case of Matador. The making of this album was the first time that we were both able to focus on our music full-time, which has been a really good experience -- no distractions!”

Ramic said that while A&S incorporated more vocals and guest musicians and continue to expand their sound on Matador, Arms and Sleepers is still basically just he and Lewis.

“The music we are working on now is definitely different from what we originally began with; there are more people involved now, which has given our sound a welcomed transformation, but this is still very much our own little project and we are certainly happy with where it’s going.”

Lewis explained the sparse vocals in Arms and Sleepers releases.

“Regarding vocals, it wasn’t a very big change for us as we’ve been in bands before Arms and Sleepers that had prominent vocals, and also in our past releases we’ve always had at least some vocals present. We’re not necessarily that big into instrumental music, so we were very excited to be able to work with singers on this album.”

“The only reason really that we did not have more vocals before is simply because it was hard to find the right people, and we ourselves cannot sing. Things kind of fell into place with Matador in terms of vocals, and we’re very happy about that. Collaborating with other artists has been a great experience, as we have always really valued other people’s ideas and input.”

So a process that began with writing in November 2008 and recording this summer is now complete. Arms and Sleepers has a cool teaser video for Matador on their MySpace page, which brings you to one of the more awesome parts of the A&S experience: the video they project as background accompaniment during their live shows.

“We consider the visual aspect of the live performance to be very important,” Lewis admitted. “It’s something that we’ve been doing since we started this project in 2006. Seeing as our music is heavily influenced by visual arts, it only made sense that we would try and present it with visuals at live performances.”

Lewis said that the duo plans on having “a proper music video” for the first single off Matador, "The Architekt" before 2009 is done, so look forward to that.

In addition to any video for their music, Arms and Sleepers is taking a bit of a step back, and releasing a limited pressing of Matador on vinyl, Lewis said.

“Matador is perhaps our most organic-sounding record yet, and we feel that analog media will best be able to convey the sound that we were going for with this album.”

Ramic summed up the pride and joy he and Lewis have in the current state of Arms and Sleepers in general, and Matador in particular.

“…the band has obviously been a central focus for us for a while now, and has been very present in both of our everyday lives for the past few years. It’s certainly very special to us and it’s really nice to be able to see it grow and expand.”

--- photo: Fanny Giroud

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