CAUTION: you will not ‘Sleep Well’ to this.

This isn’t down to Persher not playing well enough or serenading the listener as well as they could be on their debut, oh no: this electronic-metal-screamo-experimental duo are just having you on. As do a few of their songs’ zany names – my personal favourite being ‘Medieval Soup From The Milkbar’ – their album’s title indicates a wry sense of humour that both compliments and contrasts with Persher’s unique, confusing and utterly compelling sound.

Making up this duo are Jamie Roberts (AKA Blawan) and Arthur Cayzer (AKA Pariah), two musicians brought together by their love of heavy, boundary-pushing music and their shared desire to push the boundaries even further. Their first output, the coruscating Man With The Magic Soap, laid the foundation for what Persher expand upon to an extreme degree on Sleep Well: foraying into ear-quaking synthesised noise, punk-inspired drums and hell-raising vocals with considerable confidence. With their latest record set to be unleashed on 23rd February, listeners can anticipate a sonic experience that will – contrary to what its name suggests – keep them awake for days after first hearing it.

Had you gone into this album without seeing my gracious disclaimer at the start of this review, your expectation of some tranquil ‘lofi beats to study to’ would’ve evaporated pretty soon after pressing ‘play’. Within 10 seconds of the opening track, ‘Crumpled Man,’ bass-heavy riffs infiltrate the eardrums with glitchy abandon as a rampant drum beat and Roberts’ blistering vocals whisk the listener away into their alien soundscape. Persher’s creative vision, throughout the record, is evincible in their compositions’ gratifying progressions; here, they somehow manage to heighten the hysteria it conveys halfway through, as the instrumentation intensifies beneath cacophonous cries of the song title.

At the mercy of Sleep Well’s 11 songs, one cannot help but feel overcome by a sense of powerlessness; an effect instilled by the sheer weight of Roberts’ despairing howls. In second track ‘Elemental Stoppage,’ rampant drumming assists the vocalist’s guttural cries with constructing an audio-form dystopian world and, as the noise fizzles out after two minutes of madness, we’re left reeling. Not for long, though. The aforementioned ‘Medieval Soup From The Milkbar’ continues the previous track’s chaotic legacy through its phasing, earth-shaking synth-bass and low, frenetic growls.

It has to be reiterated, in touching upon this particular song, that Persher’s experimental approach to their music isn’t wholly serious. Take the quirky, Nokia-ringtone-reminiscent keyboard phrases that the duo insert in between bouts of bone-rattling noise here, or the strange, garbled excerpt of speech that sounds alongside Roberts’ screams in ‘Hymn To The Tupperbird’. Just like Clown Core pepper their hair-raising hardcore compositions with sound effects of a squeaking clown nose, Persher craft what are undoubtedly complex and multi-layered songs with tongues firmly in cheek – something that, I find, may cause listeners of this album to feel more at ease in being faced with a sound that could be miles away from their musical comfort zone.

Many of my favourite cuts from Sleep Well are examples of the duo’s unique brand of synth metal musical fuckery at its finest. ‘Portable Aquarium’ sees Roberts flit between the cleanest his vocals have been across the record (i.e. relatively intelligible – repeating, rather ominously, ‘I don’t want it’) and unrestrained screamo, atop a swiftly marching drum pattern and synth line that comes increasingly close to TV static in its sound. The song ‘Sleep Well Night Time Forest Rain’ – a title that, again, one wouldn’t expect to be yelled screamo-style, but this album defies all expectations – presents a punkish drum beat played at breakneck speed, brain-busting bass and (what I assume is) an idiosyncratic trumpet melody; all of which come together to form a disorientating musical representation of the brain on drugs.

At this point, you’ll probably agree with me that this record is an acquired taste, a niche of niches, perhaps something you’d happen upon in the depths of a record store’s ‘experimental’ section. However, speaking as someone who actively enjoys hearing examples of musicians channelling their influences and creating something truly fresh and innovative – as I believe Cayzer and Roberts have done with their debut – I can (and will) recommend that you take a dive into Persher’s music. Whatever genres you tend to stick with, be assured that these two have probably incorporated some aspects of them into their 11 challenging and ultimately rewarding songs. You’re bound to enjoy something!

Persher: Sleep Well – Out 23rd February 2024 (Thrill Jockey)

Well Night Time Forest Rain (