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TRACK LIST: 1. Heretics 4:50 2. Elizabeth 8:22 3. Utopic 6:38 4. To Love Is to Leave 8:01 5. The Name You Fear 6:10 6. It Must Taste Good 8:32 7. I Know What You Are 6:43 8. Fist to Face 4:15 9. Lost Our Faith 2:06 10. How Long We Wait 9:29 11. Ashes Fall 8:08 LINEUP: Matt Page – guitars, banjo; keyboards; vocals Joey Waters – drums; vocals Chris Tackett – bass With: Seth Myers – cello Nathan Williams – French horn
Prolusion. The US band DREAM THE ELECTRIC SLEEP (DTES from now on) was formed back in 2009, and from their base in Lexington, Kentucky, they have explored their particular brand of progressive rock on two full-length albums so far. "Heretics" is the most recent of these, self-released by the band in early 2014.
Analysis. I've been fortunate enough to see this band live, when they performed at ROSfest in 2013, and was quite intrigued by their live performance back then. Even if they needed some performance assistance from a laptop. I was also suitably impressed by their drummer, a guy with arms thicker than my thighs and hitting the drums with what merits a description as forceful. I was told that he is in the habit of actually breaking a number of drumsticks each year due to his forceful delivery. While his contributions on this album isn't quite as powerful as on stage, the drum patterns are loud and distinct, and an attention grabbing element in each and every composition on this production. The strange thing is that DTES isn't a band that explores a type of music that is all that powerful really, but perhaps that is part of what makes the music of the band intriguing: that you'd expect more powerful music for drums of this kind, or a more subdued drummer to supplement this music. DTES does hit out into darker toned and majestic territories on occasion, but while that is an effective dramatic effect, the core of their sound resides elsewhere. The light toned, fragile realms of Radiohead and, presumably, Muse, are ones frequently encountered. In this take without the angst of Radiohead, but the frail plucked guitars and generally indie-inspired sound is present, up to and including the lead vocals. DTES is rather fond of supplemental, often subtle keyboards to add a careful smooth layer to the proceedings though, adding an extra dimension to the material, and they aren't afraid to throw in some details closer to the likes of U2 into the mix either. Rather more prominent are harder edged guitars, of the kind that reminds more than a bit of the Canadian trio Rush, and the sound they explored around the time “Signals” was released in particular. Further expanding the scope of the material explored on this CD are light toned, intense, nervous guitar textures of the kind that either can be described as post rock or oriented towards that particular style. The end result in this case is a long, solid production that hovers on the borderlands between indie, alternative and progressive rock, with a few post rock details thrown in for good measure, all made and well performed, with a distinct elegant touch to it, and smoothly wandering between the frail and fragile to the harder edged and firmer sounding parts of their repertoire. Solid compositions by a solid band, somewhat hard to place and describe within a progressive rock oriented context, but one sure to be treasured by many with an interest in music of that kind.
Conclusion. DTES comes across as a modern band on most levels, and a band that doesn't look all that much backwards in time for inspiration either. Familiar sounding details appear here and there, vocals similar to both Bono and Thom Yorke, Rush style harder edged but light toned riffs and soloing, post rock textures and the nervous moods of bands like Radiohead. With a few possible nods towards Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree to boot. But while many details sound familiar, the end result really doesn't compare directly to any other artist I can recall. Progressive rock with a foundation in the music of today if you like, incorporating select details from multiple styles and traditions into a new whole. A band and a CD that merit an inspection by those intrigued by that description, and one I'd guess should interest those who enjoy their early ‘80s Rush just as much as late 90's Radiohead.
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