Night Divorce is the debut EP from Portland band Somber. Its seven tracks bleed together like one long dream sequence, but they sound stuck—thrashing against the walls, caught between worlds.

“At the time we were writing Night Divorce, I was having a particularly bad period of night terrors and even sleep paralysis,” says vocalist/keyboardist Myrrh Crow. “It got to the point where at any moment I couldn’t fully tell whether I was sleeping or awake, and existed in what felt like a permanent state of half-reality. The only way I could really know what was real was if I wrote it down, so I journaled constantly, and all of these lyrics came out of that.”

Joined by Logan White (bass), Jonathan Benz (guitar/samples), and Justin Clark (drums), Crow replicates this state of half-reality in dark shoegaze landscapes that masterfully capture the knife-edge between calm and terror. The whole EP centers on the duality of sleep, and how this refuge can turn hellish. It’s reflected in hissing guitar, thundering percussion, veils of static noise, droning samples, and echoing vocals that sound like they’re reverberating off the walls of a cave. A gentle piano melody cuts through the turmoil of “Soft/Stale” like a menacing lullaby as Crow howls, “I’m a waking nightmare/You look so peaceful when you sleep.”

Night Divorce begins and ends with the same verse: “Terror in my blood/Thrash into the void/I projected visions/How can’t you just know.” This complete arc reflects the cyclical damage of night terrors, since drifting into sleep means returning to the danger. The lyrics of “Mend” also illustrate this repetitive harm: “Healing and breaking over and over, it’s never over/You’ll be all right someday.”

“Jonathan came up with the title, after it had all been written,” Crow says. “He knew what was going on with my mental health and troubled sleep at the time. He suggested Night Divorce as a way to represent a kind of separation during sleep—separation from reality, from the person I was sleeping next to, or even from my sense of self.”

Night Divorce is wholly contained within the liminal realm created by night terrors. It’s unclear if Somber will exit this space with their forthcoming follow-up, but for now, they’ve successfully executed a difficult concept right out of the gates.

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