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The Deep Don’t Sleep provides a passing insight into the mind of Name UL

"The Deep Don't Sleep EP"

Release date: 14 August 2020
Name UL The Deep Dont Sleep EP Cover
14 August 2020, 14:41 Written by Ben Lynch
Whether it’s dictating the concerns of binge drinking in his hometown of Wellington on Choice(s) or exploring fame and new surroundings on Tape 1, Name UL has firmly established himself as an artist for the particularly contemplative listener.

Given this context, the name of his most recent EP, The Deep Don’t Sleep, should raise some concerns around the Kiwi artist’s current nighttime cycle. Opener “Bristol Bus” does little to dissuade such thoughts, Name UL adopting a sparse, oppressive beat, indicating an agitated psyche as he admits he’s “counting down the days, forgot the instinct for survival”. Tracks dealing with heartbreak (“Tongue Tied”) and apathy at the turgid, conformist nature of daily life (“Street Wall Labour”) develop this narrative, reflective of an artist unimpressed with what’s being offered.

The EP is anything but wall-to-wall frustration though. “Red Eye” in particular has a much softer vibe, closer to the mood on Choice(s) and similar to something fellow Kiwi act Shiraz & LSJ might conjure up. It’s on closer, “Time Ain’t What I Need”, however that Name UL is the most reflective. Backed by a dense beat, he displays an insecurity about his decisions to avoid the rat race of typical working life, outwardly questioning that “maybe I need a J O B”. As he publicly runs through the potential of living a life ongoing without distinction, lamenting how “days turn into weeks, weeks into months”, it’s impossible not to draw connections to the recent lockdown experienced in New Zealand, which despite its brevity considering the state elsewhere was also one of the most severe.

Whether the connection is imagined or intentional, it nonetheless embodies the sense that The Deep Don’t Sleep is a passing, but personal, update from Name UL, encompassing a range of moods and moments of serious soul-searching in the midst of a fairly extraordinary period of time. As sharp and intellectually provocative as ever, it’s also an update fans of Name UL will welcome with open arms, and proof that recent events have done nothing to curb his mastery of storytelling.

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