As the number of tracks that have graced my ear canals steadily grows with each passing day, It’s become less and less common for a track to make me stop what I’m doing and instantly pay stark attention. This firm grasping of focus is a sign of a true masterpiece of assembled noise, creating a bubble of peace and tranquility in a world where more often than not the opposite is reality. Columbus, Ohio’s Pinwheel has achieved just that with the release of his debut EP No Sleep, a 4 track body of work that absolutely needs to be heard. With sound design on-par with some of the biggest names in the bass community, and a distinct aesthetic centered around social consciousness and awareness, this artist has a chance to have his art shine in a truly special way. Released on the burgeoning What? Collective, all proceeds made from the release of No Sleep will be donated to The Columbus Freedom Fund, which is a charity centered around black liberation and freedom, an organization immensely necessary in these times.
‘Free Your Mind,’ a meditative piece about breaking free from societal bonds, starts off your introspective journey through Pinwheel’s audible storytelling. Sporting a foundation of grimy wubs and luscious layers, it molds an area into one of intense mindfulness. After the first drop settles, vocals referencing mass media manipulation and its effect on society are thrust upon the listener, breaking the dichotomy of music existing outside our bodies but yet having internal affects at the same time. A fitting introduction into No Sleep, it’s followed by arguably my favorite underground release in recent memory.
It’s hard to put down in words the emotions that ‘No Justice’ makes me experience, and this is honestly a rare occurrence. The haunting loop “No Justice, No Peace” that echoes throughout the introduction instantly transports your mind to the plight of the current civil rights movement in the country, one I’ve personally participated in heavily since its most recent inception. To encapsulate hope, pain, pride, and an unending desire for the world to do what’s right is an insane project to set out on, but somehow Pinwheel more than delivers, he crushes it sheer out of the park. I urge people to listen to this with headphones and their eyes closed, temporarily losing themselves in the sound bath that this master craftsman has laid out for us. To say that I adore this song is a reckless understatement, as I haven’t been moved by a piece like this in ages. The point of music is to successfully make you feel something, but this feels like it’s almost being engraved, or reaching into a deep primal place in my center and firmly grasping at the core of my being. I felt an immediate and intense gratefulness flood my mental state after listening for the first time, and a compulsory desire to dip my toes back into that void for another grappling. I feel humbled, with a renewed sense of direction, my moral compass never pointing straighter. The mixing in ‘No Justice’ is bar-none, each layer singing crispy clean, a true astonishment of modern sound design. Featuring inordinate amounts of swing and movement, you’ll feel compelled to interpret it through any movement possible, nothing seeming out of the realm of possibility. Some of the most magnificent works of our time came from difficult moments that felt almost impossible to overcome in the current moment. This is one of those pieces.
Next comes ‘Wake Up Call,’ which features cheeky samples from the Matrix that creates an individual tale within a collective sonic voyage. Neo informs you “I know you’re out there” before the first introduction to the bass lines, initiating your deep dive down the rabbit hole. “You’re afraid” is sprinkled towards the end of the first delicious drop before devolving into “You’re afraid of us”, accompanied with a stark contrast in overall mood and energy. The struggle of the normal citizen at the forefront, and our push back against those in power is felt with a much darker, aggressive tone. A true ‘Wake Up Call’ and call to action, this piece is a rally cry, and a reminder that we, the people, carry the true power in our society.
Rounding out No Sleep is the title track, a song that assuredly should not be slept on. Proudly boasting a bounce so springy one might think they’re at a trampoline park, you’ll feel like a mellow gangster, tranquility and confidence shot directly into the veins. The kicks and claps are exceedingly satisfying, making for a truly high fidelity audio experience that’s easy on the ears, and intense on the mind. Fading out with an excerpt from a speech by John F. Kennedy, “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot beget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom, through the awful grace of god. What we need is not division, what we need is not hatred, what we need is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion towards one another.” ‘No Sleep’ is a magnificent, poignant ending to an immaculate body of work.
If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, I’m utterly infatuated with this project as a whole. The overall aesthetic and distinct sound, coupled with a fully curated and cleverly implemented overall message, showcases a level of artistry rarely found nowadays. Pinwheel has done nothing but impress with this release, and has made a minimum of one new fan in the form of this writer right here. If you enjoyed the entirety of No Sleep as much as I did, I urge you to buy the EP on Bandcamp so your donation can help the very issues expressed within. Pinwheel will absolutely be one to watch with a keen eye for the foreseeable future, so make sure to keep him secured on your radar. Check out all of No Sleep for yourself below!