The rear sleeve of Music For Insomniacs dedicates the album to “Insomnia sufferers everywhere. Sleep well.” On Matt Berry’s website, the actor/writer/musician further elaborates that “If the experiment is successful, you shouldn’t remember it.” Many are the records which have put listeners to sleep; rare are those for which this is the stated intention.
Music for Insomniacs bears no relation to the lush prog-folk ponderings that comprise the rest of Berry’s musical oeuvre. It consists of two tracks, “Part 1″ and “Part 2,” each 20-odd minutes long, both sounding rather like Berry made them up as he went along. The music, which is largely keyboard-oriented, meanders between understated riffing, ambient backwashes of synthesizer chords and occasional moments of drama, involving portentous percussion and the yelps of what sound like people drowning in the morass.
Bits of it are very pretty, bits of it are somewhat trying, and bits of it are barely there at all. However, for all that Music for Insomniacs often sounds like aimless noodling, there’s quite a lot going on: the passage about 20 minutes into “Part 1,” which is as coldly beguiling as anything by Air, or the first movement of “Part 2,” which threatens to blossom gloomily into a Laibach-like sturm und drang before closing with departing hoofbeats.
While Music for Insomniacs isn’t nearly dull enough to prompt drowsiness, it’s not nearly as compelling as the more orthodox works to which Berry has attached his name. An interesting diversion, but not one demanding a sequel.