Moreno’s disc more tone deaf than Deftones

Mike McKenna

Deftones front man Chino Moreno shows his experimental side on his new band’s self-titled debut, “Team Sleep.” What started as a series of four-track demo tape swaps with friend and Team Sleep guitarist Todd Wilkinson back in the mid-90s, Moreno has put together a team of lesser-known musicians to create an interesting sounding record, to say the least. California based DJ Crook supplies the synthetic programmed beats which roar throughout the background of the album. Buyers beware, however, this is fair warning that Team Sleep is no Deftones and you may wind up dissatisfied with a what seems like a far less artistically evolved Mars Volta project, or, God forbid, a doppelganger of Dave Navarro’s “Trust No One” (2001).

Since the Deftones have not scored a true commercial hit since “White Pony” (2000), it appears Moreno has set out in a new direction with his music if for no other reason than to entertain himself. This is not to say “Team Sleep” will be a total flop. After all, their song “The Passportal” was featured on the soundtrack to the Matrix: Reloaded back in 2003. Judging by the film it was featured in, you can probably gather the nature of Team Sleep’s sound. For the most part, the album lulls in a synthetic drone, broken only occasionally by a soaring guitar tier. Moreno reliably croons in Deftones fashion, but the music does not accompany his vocals to any mentionable degree of success.

“Team Sleep” has few noteworthy offerings for listeners. “Blvd. Nights” is a track which seems committed to appeasing listeners with an ear attuned to rock. There are some rushes of adrenaline and anger hidden underneath this track’s layered exterior. The sentiment is short-lived, however, as a few tracks later you are lulled with “Tomb of Liegia,” an eerie slow-beat ghostly mix featuring a musical selection that throws an ear to several tracks from the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Machina” album.

DJ Crook showcases his programming abilities on tracks such as “Staring at the Queen” and the hip-hop laden “King Diamond.” Rest assured that Crook’s sound is inferior to turntable peers DJ Danger Mouse and Mr. Hann of Linkin Park, but enjoyable enough to listen to.

“Live from the Stage” meanders through a couple minutes of quiet floating sounds and drum loops before arriving at a genuinely interesting rock portion where actual drumming and guitar can be heard, albeit slightly tweaked by Crook’s inability to allow the band’s instrumentals to be heard as remotely au naturale.

Those listeners looking for an uninspired techno-based synthetic quagmire of sound would be well-advised to order a copy of “Team Sleep.” For the rest of us who do not necessarily enjoy brooding in a corner at 2 a.m. smoking cigarettes by candlelight and still have the desire to enjoy music at a reasonable hour can probably forgo this album and continue without another example of how potentially good sounding music can go awry when it is hooked up to a computer and brought to an unpleasant simmer.

Give these Team Sleep tracks a second listen: “Ataraxia,” “Blvd. Dreams,” and “Live from the Stage.”

Our rating: 2 stars (out of five.)