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Sleeps With The Fishes - Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook

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Sleeps with the Fishes is the lone collaborative album from Clan of Xymox founding member Pieter Nooten and guitarist/producer Michael Brook, released by 4AD on 12 October 1987. Intended as Nooten's debut solo album after a brief split from Clan of Xymox, the record turned into a collaboration with Brook after a suggestion from 4AD label founder and boss Ivo Watts-Russell. Though not a huge commercial success, Sleeps with the Fishes was described by AllMusic as "essential listening for fans of 4AD, ambient music, minimalism, experimental electronic music, and morose themes alike... an overlooked masterpiece."

According to Martin Aston's 2013 book Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD, the genesis of the album formed after Pieter Nooten left Clan of Xymox in 1987 (leader Ronny Moorings subsequently restored the band's name to simply 'Xymox'). "For me, Pieter was the heart of Xymox, and taking him out, they became much more like their influences. Pieter was more interested in classical music at that point," said Ivo Watts-Russell. Nooten had told Watts-Russell that he had some "basic, but still intimate, melancholic material," which the label boss had appreciated and responded with the offer of making a solo album. Watts-Russell chose London's Blackwing Studios as the recording location, but Nooten claims he "couldn't bring anything fresh to [the recordings]... we needed new blood." Watts-Russell was a fan of the Editions EG Records label, and suggested Canadian ambient guitarist and producer Michael Brook, whose debut album Hybrid (featuring Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois) had caught the label boss's ear. "Michael's input was so large, it became a joint record... I was really enjoying Roger Eno and Michael's first album, so I loved releasing something in that vein, combined with Pieter's melodies," said Watts-Russell. Nooten hailed Brook as "the ultimate producer - calm, thoughtful, highly skilled and, above all, a brilliant guitarist. We shared the same approach to the material: subtle, sensitive, thoughtful, intimate and intense." A number of tracks on Sleeps with the Fishes were re-recorded from previous Clan of Xymox contributions: "Equal Ways" from 1985's Clan of Xymox, and "After the Call" and "Theme I" (herein renamed "Clouds" and featuring vocals and lyrics) from 1986's Medusa.

Sleeps with the Fishes was released as 4AD catalog number CAD 710 in October 1987 on vinyl LP and CD in the United Kingdom (a reissue of the CD briefly appeared in 1998, with revised tray and disc artwork and the "reissue catalog number" of GAD 710). The album features a roster of 4AD alum and session musicians, including violinist Gini Ball, vocalist Alison Limerick, and percussionists Peter Ulrich and John Fryer, all of whom had performed as part of the 4AD supergroup This Mortal Coil across three albums: 1984's It'll End in Tears, 1986's Filigree & Shadow, and 1991's Blood. Additionally, Nooten and vocalist Deirdre Rutkowski performed a version of "Several Times I" as part of This Mortal Coil on the collective's album Blood in 1991. The artwork for Sleeps with the Fishes was designed by Vaughan Oliver, with calligraphy by graphic designer Chris Bigg and photography by Diana Grandi and Sarah Tucker.[

Following the album's release, Nooten rejoined the rebranded Xymox, now signed to Wing/PolyGram Records, for their third and fourth albums, Twist of Shadows (1989) and Phoenix (1991), with the latter album featuring guitar from Brook on two tracks. Brook would continue producing and recording, including three further albums on 4AD: Cobalt Blue and Live at the Aquarium in 1992, and the motion picture soundtrack for the film Albino Alligator in 1997.

Track Listings:
    1. Several Times I 3:02
    2. Searching 3:23
    3. The Choice 4:29
    4. After The Call 5:16
    5. Finally II 1:53
    6. Instrumental 3:53
    7. Suddenly II 1:30
    8. Suddenly I 2:36
    9. Clouds 4:27
    10. Finally I 3:49
    11. Several Times II 2:05
    12. Equal Ways 5:00
    13. These Waves 3:12
    14. Time 1:51
    15. Several Times III 1:12
Total Time: 47:38
Artist Name(s):
Pieter Nooten – keyboards, vocals
Michael Brook – infinite guitars, keyboards, buzz bass
Gini Ball – violin
Tim Eaton – oboe
Audrey Riley – cello
Rob Suters – string arrangements, piano
Peter Ulrich – percussion
Brian Eno, J.P. Rykiel - Synthesizer Dx7 Sounds
John Fryer – percussion on "Suddenly"
Alison Limerick – vocals on "Equal Ways"
Michael Brook
Release Year: 1987
Ambient, Classical, Minimal, Soundtrack
Album Type:
Compact Disc, Digital / Download, LP 33 1/3
Cover & Packge Design:
Vaughan Oliver
Mastering: Tape One, Nimbus
Engineer(s): Michael Brook, Nigel K. Hine*
Label / Publishing
Label Name:
Catalog Number(s):
CAD 710
London, UK
Momentum Music Ltd.
Editions / Reissues
  1. 1987 - CD - 4AD - CAD 710 - UK
  2. 1987 - LP - 4AD - CAD 710 - UK
  3. 1987 - CD - Virgin - VG 50359 - Greece
  4. 1999 - CD - ArsNova, 4AD - AN+ON-011 - Russia
Synthesizers Used
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