Sometimes you find bands on your path that are exceptional gifted; not bands that you regularly listen to, but still get under your skin. Every time I listen to an album by Dream The Electric Sleep, I regret not playing those albums more often, because of the high quality music and great craftsmanship of the musicians. This year, the Lexington based trio will release their third album. After two-in my opinion-slightly underrated albums; Lost And Gone Forever (2011, see review) and Heretics.(2014, see review) Beneath The Dark Wide Sky will be released on a newly formed German label; Mutiny and I really hope this third effort will finally establish their name. DTES started in 2009 and has been very solid with their line-up; consisting of vocalist and guitarist Matt Page, bass player Chris Tackett and drummer Joey Waters, with only extra guitarist; Andrew Hibpshman joining the band during live performances.
For the new album the band has chosen to team up with Nick Raskulinecz, known from his work with Rush, Foo Fighters and Mastodon, just to name a few. Inspiration for the compositions came from 1930's photographs of the Dust Bowl, taken by Dorothea Lange. The album starts with a nicely building Drift; a minimalistic but effective song, that grows from a guitar melody to very pleasant sounding vocal parts with a simple drum part underneath. This seemingly uncomplicated approach totally convinces me of their ability to write fantastic compositions that are accessible as well as progressive. The following Let The Light Flood In is a quite brilliant song that highlights Matt's fabulous vocals, placed in a progressive rock composition with an alternative and even poppy touch to it. This song emphasizes the power of the collective and creates a similar energy as the Canadian trio Rush. During the subsequent Flight; an acoustically driven composition, I hear similarities with Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen's band Blackfield, as the same intensity is displayed
and even the vocal style of Matt Page equals Aviv's, but sounds less nasal than Aviv's. Atmospheric and more progressive is We Who Blackout The Sun, an instrumental that has the typical DTES sound even though Matt's characteristic is not present. Nicely driven by a solid drum pattern, Hanging By Time follows, filled with more emotive vocal parts and heavily synthesized guitar parts. Halfway the power gains and a beautiful guitar solo follows. The aforementioned Rush must have been an influence when you listen to the beginning of Culling The Herd, but also the Muse factor has to be mentioned when it comes to this over seven minutes song, with emphasis on the collective sound of DTES again which acknowledges the true band effort on Beneath The Dark Wide Sky. A short kind of interlude is found on The Last Psalm To Silence, a smooth instrumental piece of rest. One of the more brilliant compositions on the album is the über catchy The Good Night Sky, progressive rock with both strong pop and alternative music influences. DTES shows to have the ability to write songs for a larger audience. The twist however is that the guitar solo probably will prevent modern day radio from playing this song. So, I would suggest to release the song as a single, skip the solo and get some well-deserved airplay. It worked for Ramjam's Black Betty many years ago, the album version originally had a beautiful long guitar solo, which was cut down to achieve the maximal time a single could have. Headlights has minor Blackfield resemblances, mainly during the driving drum parts, but remains an atypical DTES composition. Distorted vocal parts and a darker atmosphere can be heard on Black Wind. The brilliant last part of the song has a sound like Muse going bananas with metal and creates an amazing end on this beautiful song. The final track: All Good Things is a cool atmospheric song with post rock elements and has repeating vocal parts that were imbedded into it. The acoustic end of the song just makes your feeling stronger to want to push repeat the album.
I am confident that the release of Beneath The Dark Wide Sky will be the step that Dream The Electric Sleep needs to get a larger audience. I know the in-crowd is very convinced of the powers of the band, but the whole world needs to know what a majestic band DTES is. Personally I find this album a natural next step up from previous albums and I hope they will get the chance to prove their musical abilities with some live performances in Europe; especially Holland.
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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