No Man's Valley - "Chrononaut Cocktail Bar/Flight of the Sloths"


No Man's Valley is a band from Horst, Netherlands who has been releasing music since about 2012. Their genre is a bit hard to pin down, having a tendency to vacillate between psychedelic rock, retro rock, blues, post-punk, indie, and alternative. This variety is clearly heard on the band's newest album, Chrononaut Cocktailbar/Flight of the Sloths, which releases on April 19, 2024. 

You see, after No Man's Valley released the dark psych blues album Outside the Dream in 2019 and played just a few celebratory shows, the pandemic hit and the world seemed to stop turning for quite a while. No Man's Valley, like many other bands whose careers were effectively put on hold at that time, dove into nurturing their creativity, writing and incorporating modern technology into the process in order to stay sane. A slow and steady journey led to the creation of the album we're going to talk about here; an album with two very different sides. All of the songs that the band wrote separately found a home on the Chrononaut Cocktailbar side. As you'll see, these songs have much more structure and tell very specific tales. Flight of the Sloths, in stark contrast, is an 18-minute progressive psych jam session, a song that moves very naturally and beautifully. There are also videos the band created to accompany three of these songs, and I personally feel that two of those videos in particular are quite an important part of the album, adding a visual that provides atmosphere, context, and so much more. Make no mistake, there's a massive amount of thought-provoking depth here that I'm very eager to get into with you, so without further ado, here we go:

Chrononaut Cocktailbar

1. Chrononaut Cocktailbar

Chrononaut Cocktailbar, as shown in its accompanying video, is a song about just that. The scenes depict such an establishment's clientele, which, needless to say, come from the past, present, and future. Music and vocals alike take on a very psychedelic, nearly sci-fi vibe, giving this track a movie soundtrack feel. Very cool, and undeniably creative. 

2. Love

Love is quite peppy instrumentally, with retro rock style that is heavy on the organ, combined with a bit of surfer rock. The vocals take on a post-punk sound here, passionate yet dark and intentionally without much inflection on the verses. It's in this song that you can really begin to hear the Jim Morrison tonality in the vocals, the velvety quality a great fit with the post punk vibe. 

3. Creepoid Blues

Here, we see the band return to their dark blues approach. This song also has a very authentic retro feel; I can easily imagine myself in a smokey lounge in the pre-WWII era. The lyrics on Creepoid Blues are deliciously dark:

"You followed me to Los Angeles
You followed me to the beach
You followed me to hell's red hot gates
And there you asked to be set free

I know you want to leave me
But I can't let that be."

Now that is a blues lounge that I'd frequent. 

The bona fide blues sound on this track also clearly demonstrates No Man's Valley's impressive skill set when it comes to playing multiple genres of music, taking those genres to the darker side of the spectrum.

4. Seeing Things

Never a group to be indirect, No Man's Valley wrote Seeing Things about that very phenomenon. The lyrics, combined with the dreamy and calm psychedelic instrumentals, allow the listener to mentally place themselves in an institution, perhaps wandering aimlessly about the halls. The serene, reflective vocals make it seem as if the protagonist here actually revels in his hallucinations, or is at least quite content in them. 

"Inside on the outside never looks like from within
Walls are creeping up themselves again"

It's difficult to imagine a song about mental instability that will leave you feeling incredibly placated and at peace, but Seeing Things does just that, almost like a clever trick. 

5. Shapeshifter

Shapeshifter is another bluesy number on which the vocals get noticeably more passionate. This is where things started to get much more introspective for me, as this song is about something almost all of us can relate to: not liking who you are, or who you've become, and wanting to change it with all your might. 

"How did I get here 
How did that go?
How did I turn into
Someone down below

The minute I could change my name
I'd do it in a heartbeat
The minute I could change the pace
I'd do it on repeat"

6. Orange Juice

This is my favorite song on Chrononaut Cocktailbar lyrically, purely for telling a very relatable and equally entertaining tale of bad luck. You know those days where you wake up and everything goes wrong from the very start? Not even the small, routine things will work in your favor, and the whole universe has you in its sights? We've all had those days. For the unfortunate hero in this song, it began when he woke up and discovered he was out of orange juice. A trip to the local convenience store leads to a series of uncanny and hapless events. Vocals and instrumentals here start in a very bare bones and monotonous cadence, building in intensity as the story unfolds, a clever method of delineation. 

7. Flight of the Sloths

Here we go: the 18-minute psychedelic juggernaut I mentioned earlier. You may also recall that I brought up those really cool videos that the band made to go along with some of their songs? The accompanying video to Flight of the Sloths is absolutely vital to have while you listen, completing this contemplative work of art. The band's sound here is completely different; no longer the slightest bit bluesy, punky, or tongue-in-cheek, Flight of the Sloths is purely introspective, giving you the sensation that you're floating around rather peacefully in someone's brain, hearing and seeing their very thoughts and impressions as they form. There's still a film of darkness here, but in the form of one's own self-sabotaging thoughts, so it's nothing eerie or unfamiliar. The difference is that darkness is addressed within the same song it originates from, imploring you to "let it go" and offering support. One of my favorite lyrics that I really took to heart is as follows:

"Take my hand, we will fly
We will enjoy our flight
Without thinking of arriving anywhere
Breathe, and let it be"

The comforting and almost spontaneous-sounding lyrics and instrumentals (jam session) combined with the AI visuals in the video give the sensation of flying over some trippy yet soothing landscapes make this song an amazing mindfulness tool. I was absolutely floored when I saw it and, frankly, a bit emotional. 

Final Thoughts

Interestingly, Flight of the Sloths was the first song I'd ever heard by No Man's Valley. Needless to say, I was expecting the rest of their work to be very dreamlike and heavy on the psychedelic rock. When I heard the Chrononaut Cocktailbar side of the album, I was delightfully caught off guard by the incredible variety I heard. Chrononaut Cocktailbar contains songs that have a very retro feel; bluesy, sexy, loungey, and post-punky, with a bit of a rockabilly/alternative rock flair. It certainly has a dark feel, but in a very intriguing, and often, a very relatable way. Best of all, said darkness is delivered in a really fun manner with the incredibly infectious instrumentals and smooth, clean vocals. 

Then, of course, you have the other side of the coin: Flight of the Sloths. Even though this "side" of the album is the other's polar opposite, it's quite easy to see how they fit together once you listen to everything in its entirety. If Chrononaut Cocktailbar explores darkness head on, particularly the darkness of the human experience, then Flight of the Sloths is the healing; the proverbial therapist you'll need after all of that other stuff. You can certainly see how this material was written during the pandemic; a bleak time that made the world reexamine how we treat ourselves and each other, shining a much-needed light on mental health and self-care. As silly as it may sound to legitimately recommend a song as a therapeutic tool, I feel that I can safely do just that with Flight of the Sloths, especially in the realms of mindfulness, meditation, and self-reflection. And seriously, major props to No Man's Valley for creating such a thing. 

Chrononaut Cocktailbar/Flight of the Sloths won't be fully available until April 19, 2024, but you can check out the tracks Chrononaut Cocktailbar, Love, and Flight of the Sloths now on your favorite music streaming platform, and watch the videos for each of these songs on YouTube (links below).


More About No Man's Valley

No Man's Valley Is:

Jasper Hesselink - Vocals
Christian Keijsers - Guitars
Rob Perree - Bass
Ruud va de Munckhof - Keys
Dinand Claessens - Drums

You can follow No Man's Valley on these social media sites:

...and stream their music here:

Go forth and show No Man's Valley some much deserved love, and a huge thank you to the band for sharing their awesome music with me! 


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