The Sound of Rails – Prelude of Hypnotics

The Sound of Rails
Prelude of Hypnotics

Imagine yourself on a long, relaxing train ride through a vast, open stretch of land – like Nebraska. The scenery, while nothing dramatic or outstanding, is beautiful in it’s own way, quietly passing by mile by mile outside the window. The percussive clicking of the train on the tracks lulls you back and forth in your seat, and as your eyes close, your ears are filled with the sounds of your surroundings: the quiet chatting of other passengers, the clanking of the train attendants’ carts, the rustling of newspapers and magazines …
Now imagine yourself wearing a set of headphones on that train. The sights of the scenery outside blend together with the lulling tones of a bass guitar, while the sounds of the tracks passing underneath you become one with a cadence of slow, steady drumming. The background noises of the passengers eventually disappear from your ears, replaced by the clean, crisp tone of quietly plucked and strummed guitar parts. This is The Sound of Rails’ Prelude of Hypnotics.
The album opens with “The Nervous System,” an ominous track that best fits the album title of ‘hypnotic.’ The track opens with a bass track that evokes the clanking of a train on the tracks, with guitar pings that add to the atmosphere. When the drums do finally make an appearance, they perfectly mimic the bass before picking up and turning the track into a spooky direction, complete with slightly distorted vocals and ominous lyrics. The instrumental “Pacific Rim” only adds to the mysterious feel of the opening track, with morose guitar tones sprinkled over strong interaction between bass and drums. “Dark Full Ride” is very laid-back, with the guitar shadowing the bass sounds over a simple drum track with some softly spoken vocals. The track eventually picks up, awash in a sea of clean tone guitar, although the bass and drums are still the focal point of the song.
“In a Trance” sees the guitar become more of an actual necessary piece of the song equation, as the track centers on the droning sounds of the bass and guitar along with the monotone vocals. “The Coal Porter” harkens back to the opening of the CD, with an opening passage of bass and cymbals that brings to mind train-track images. The drums build up and take the song to a higher plateau, although it retains its original tone. “Regulations” opens with an attention-grabbing sound of a feedback whirl, which sputters out into the most upbeat track on the disc. The song itself is nothing special, although it’s worth noting because it is the only song on the disc that doesn’t keep with the ‘hypnotic’ vibe. “The Killer” opens with a basement engineering sound, which takes on a dark feeling when combined with the throbbing bassline and ‘all-over-the-place’ drums of the track. Eventually the sound gets around to ‘normal’ again, and the track continues before ending in a guitar drone. The quiet “Trestles Over Missouri” ends the hypnotic train ride in a slow, lulling fashion, as the rhythm of the track eventually winds down, ending the disc with a long, sustained organ note.
Much like a train ride, Prelude of Hypnotics doesn’t have any loud swells or dramatic build-ups to it. I was pressed to find a way to describe the disc, and the best I could come up with was “peacefully monotonous” – the sound doesn’t necessarily go anywhere, but after the first song and a half, you really don’t want it to, either. The Sound of Rails music is quite nice, and while I’m not too certain how well I’d handle listening to this disc at work or in my car, it really does make great music to read by or fall asleep to. Hey – at least I’ve got something to put in my Walkman for that next long train ride.