Written By: Stuad^Dib
At some point in our lives, each of us has had to sit through a friend or family member recounting a dream. It’s easy to understand the desire to describe one’s dreams to others – for such a mundane, everyday occurrence, dreaming remains a powerful yet mysterious part of the human experience. Unfortunately, this scenario rarely holds any interest for the audience. As the story-teller focuses on describing the literal events of their dream – which are only significant to them – they tend to ignore the deeper, more relatable feelings that it elicited. Not so with Second∞Sight’s Dreamscapes. Lying somewhere near the nexus of new age, ambient, and slushwave, the album deftly conveys the essence of a dream-like state in a highly engaging fashion.
Beginning with the sounds of the surf, we find ourselves standing on the shores of a “Brand New World.” A rolling drum and cymbal-crash then swell into a dramatic overture full of gentle flutes and harp glissandi, signifying the awe and wonder inspired by the beautiful starlit vista. Eventually, the music reaches a crescendo before trailing off back into the sound of the ocean, and we slip beneath the waves. Here, the imagery becomes more abstract. The playfully warbly and off-kilter instrumentation sets a bizarre tone, as if the ocean floor plays permanent host to a drunken Wonderland parade. Slowly, the surf and glissandi reassert themselves, and the focus returns to the surface. An angelic chorus and brief revisiting of the overture melody fade into a slow, peaceful piano as we are left floating serenely and staring up at the heavens. Finally washing ashore, we take one final look at this beautifully alien place before it melts away.
Curiously, though the waves have vanished, it seems some part of our unconscious wants to prolong the sensation, shifting our surroundings so that we’re now floating “Above the Clouds.” Treated to a time-stretched and more heavily reverbed repeat of the previous track’s final minutes, we fly gracefully through the fluffy, pastel-colored skies. All too soon, however, something stirs us and we are yanked back into a state of half-consciousness. Whether a sudden noise or an overfull bladder are to blame, all we want is to go back to sleep. And though we inevitably do, our anxiety in the intervening time colors our thoughts and follows us into slumber. The longest track of the album, “Before I Wake” is muddy and syrupy-slow. With its sample material stretched out to play at or below half speed, the foot-dragging drum beat and foreboding chords suggest dreams of obstacles and frustration.
Mercifully, this self-inflicted torment runs its course, and we’re left feeling relieved but wary. Mentally curling into a defensive fetal position, we turn our attention inward as “Memories” rise from the depths to confront us. As if dispassionately examining historical artifacts displayed in a silent, crystalline museum, the repetitive beeping melody lends an air of detachment. Occasionally, a short piano or electric guitar refrain breaks out as we relive some of these moments, but our trauma and fear of suffering invariably return us to sterile contemplation. That is, until roughly three fifths through when war-like drums and a wall of sound betray our determination to break free of this cycle of passivity and fear. In the final minute, rushing water and nefarious strings hint at some unresolved worry, but the benign resolution and a calming breeze carry us forward.
Allowing ourselves to stretch out again, the same breeze takes on an eerie, ghostly quality. Finding ourselves in a grassy clearing laden with fog, we can just make out a building in the distance with its door ajar. We slowly glide towards it and find an abandoned “Home,” old but not decrepit, and littered with the remains of a once loving family. Wandering the liminal, dust-filled hallways, this place inspires melancholy and longing for the safety of the past, reflected by far-off, ethereal arpeggios and twinkling synths. By degrees, the wraith-like music decays back into the wind until a soft light shines down on us from above and we begin to hear “Voices.” A mournful, heavenly chorus has heard our prayers and decided to take pity on us, cradling us in our moment of weakness.
As our distress is melted by their warm embrace, they begin receding back into the golden glow that brought them to us, parting with a final divine promise – “Paradise Awaits Us.” Suddenly, our mind is filled with a vision of this promise, communicated by a gentle, slushed-out piano melody that fills our hearts with hope and serenity. And it is with this renewed sense of wonder that we begin to “Awaken.” Signaled by synth flutes and glassy chimes, the dream world begins to disappear as the rising sun filters through our eyelids. In our final moments here, the ticking-clock percussion and quietly joyous tune invigorate us for the day ahead. Opening our eyes, we think our friends will surely love to hear about this one!
Dreamscapes is a truly transportive experience. With a disjointed yet loosely connected dream-flow of ideas and emotions, it takes the listener to places simultaneously alien and intimately familiar. Though at times morose and melancholy, the prevailing feeling is one of wonder which leaves the listener calm and relaxed. It may even serve as an effective sleep aid, but the value of taking this oneiric journey while fully aware should not be underestimated.
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Copy Editing By: DJ Nonn