VICKI SWAN & JONNY DYER – Sleep Deprivation (WetFootMusic WFM200201)

Sleep DeprivationVicki Swan and Jonny Dyer wrote Sleep Deprivation as an aid for touring musicians trying to stay awake while driving home from a gig. From their description of the difficulties experienced I can assure them that we punters suffer in exactly the same way. Whether it works or not I can’t yet say but I’ll try it next time we’re on the way back from far away.

The music was written for contra dancing and is therefore taken at a brisk pace. The joke is that the first track, ‘Intro’, is a gentle solo by Jonny – almost a lullaby, really – and later there is a pair of waltzes of the sort that a band play as an interlude to let the dancers recover their breath. There is one song, ‘Jiggle The Old Bones’, which is definitely in the American style but ‘Caucasia Contra’ also has words, presumably Spanish. Most of the ten tracks are long and the CD is designed to run as one continuous composition which works very well although I fear that it might become quite hypnotic after a while. However, the variations of tempo and instrumentation should serve to obviate that danger.

I’d always considered contra to be a relatively modern American style but it is, in fact, much older and to prove it, Vicki and Jonny wrote ‘Medieval Contra’ and, to demonstrate the evolving tradition, ‘Driving Home Chapelloise’ – the chapelloise being a recent addition to the contra repertoire brought in from France – as far as I understand it. ‘Medieval Contra’ is the longest track and gives free rein to the more unusual instruments in the duo’s repertoire but if you’re determined to subject yourself to sleep deprivation you can go to Vicki and Jonny’s website and find versions with sufficient repeats for dancing full sets. Contras can go on a bit.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Lightening The Load’ – official video: