Album Review: The Gathering - Sleepy Buildings: A Semi Acoustic Evening (2004)


Jan 8 2012, 12h50

The Gathering - Sleepy Buildings: A Semi Acoustic Evening

It has been a while since my last review, but I would like to continue with one of the live albums from The Gathering, named: Sleepy Buildings: A Semi Acoustic Evening. I bought this album about a year ago, in January 2011, to complete my collection of The Gathering and in my opinion it is one of the best live releases of the band. It was recorded at The LUX Theatre in Nijmegen (The Netherlands) on August 22nd in 2003, about half a year after the release of their previous album Souvenirs. The album contains songs of their first four studio albums with Anneke van Giersbergen: Mandylion, Nighttime Birds, How to Measure a Planet? and If_then_else, but no songs of their fifth and latest album at that time: Souvenirs. It also contains remakes of songs of the bands first two releases (before Anneke joined the band): Always and Almost a Dance and a new song: Sleepy Buildings. The recordings are, as the title is already stating: 'semi acoustic', and the sound is very atmospheric. Some of the early songs are rewritten to get a softer and more atmospheric sound. This is consistent with the transition the band made in time from harsh doom metal (pre-Anneke), through more gothic and progressive metal and rock styles, to a softer, more atmospheric, trip rock sound. Nice to know: this is the last album with bass player Hugo Prinsen Geerligs who left the band at the end of 2003 to spend more time with his family. He was replaced by Marjolein Kooijman.
The album starts with Locked Away from How to Measure a Planet?, which is not one of my favourite tracks. But it is followed by two of the best songs The Gathering has ever made: Saturnine and Amity, both from the album If_then_else. These two semi-acoustic versions are just amazing, they are so much better than the album versions. This is how these songs were meant to sound! The album continues with The Mirror Waters (2003), a remake from an old song of the Always album. Just like the other 2 remakes of pre-Anneke songs, also this song doesn't mean much to me. Next song is the kind of psychedelic Red Is a Slow Colour from How to Measure a Planet?. It is followed by the previously unreleased title track of the album: Sleepy Buildings, which is a very soft and light song with very beautiful vocals. The album continues with Travel, another song from How to Measure a Planet? and Shrink from Nighttime Birds which fits very well on this album because of its acoustic nature. It is followed by In Motion #2. Although this song is still good, I prefer the original album version from Mandylion, which is much better in my opinion. The next track Stonegarden (2003) was originally on the album Always. It is followed by another highlight on the album: My Electricity from How to Measure a Planet?. It sounds much better here than on the original album. The soft and light acoustic sound fits very well with this song. The next song is Eléanor from Mandylion. Although I really like this song, the semi-acoustic setting doesn't work for it at all. Because the lyrics are so full of anger and blame, the song needs a more metal sound, like in the original album version. Marooned is the second last song, also from How to Measure a Planet?. The album ends with a remake: Like Fountains (2003) from Almost a Dance.
The cover and booklet of the album are nice, containing pictures from the live concert. Especially the "thank you for buying this album" - message is really sweet and nice.
Overall I must say that I consider this album one of the highlights in the career of The Gathering. It contains some very special versions of some of their best songs, all in a new beautiful atmospheric acoustic setting and very beautifully sung by Anneke van Giersbergen, one of the best singers ever.

Best tracks: Saturnine, Amity, Red Is a Slow Colour, Sleepy Buildings, Travel, Shrink, My Electricity, Marooned


  • MustBeDreaming1

    Oh, the review is here for 4 days already, but I've noticed it just now, shame on me :-) I agree with you about most of the songs, especially Saturnine, which is my favourite TG song ever :-) Though I really like the reworked songs from pre-Anneke era, especially the last one, it's brilliant :-) And totally dislike Marooned here. Album version is 50-50 for me (least favourite song of the HTMAP), and the acoustic one is just unlistenable for me, don't know why %) Locked Away I liked much more after Annie/Danny show. I eventually felt what this song is meant to be, I think, strong and non-common feelings are put behind it! Travel here is fantastic as always (one of those songs which can't be spoiled, I think)... Great and really special record by The Gathering! Thanx for the review :-)

    Jan 12 2012, 11h48
  • irisvanhoorn

    I was wondering already when you would recognize it :-) Thanks for the comment! This time we don't agree much about the songs :-) I actually quite like Marooned. My least favourite songs on HTMAP would be South American Ghostride, Frail, Illuminating or The Big Sleep (not taking the title song into account, because that is just noise most of the time...) Locked Away is already growing on me, I have to listen to it some more times. Hope I will have the opportunity to see it live again!

    Jan 12 2012, 17h11
  • MustBeDreaming1

    Yes, Frail and The Big Sleep are weak for me too (but better than Marooned for me)!! Though Illuminating and Ghost Ride are both my favorites! The fist one has amazing sticky chorus, and the second one is a pretty atmospheric instrumental song! I'm close to seeing those ghosts in front of me when I'm listening to it :-) Btw, first 10 minutes of the title song are atmospheric and fun to listen too, but then it turns into meaningless noise, so I just turn it off :-)

    Jan 12 2012, 20h50
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