The progressive rock band Dream The Electric Sleep (DTES) hail from Lexington, Kentucky (USA). This quartet started in the winter of 2009 with guitarist and vocalist Matt Page, guitarist Trevor Willmott and drummer Joey Waters. Later on bassist Chris Tackett joined to complete the quartet. DTES recorded the epic concept album Lost And Gone Forever, that took over two years to create. It deals with the trials and tribulations of an Eastern Kentucky coal miner and his wife. The album captures the bold vision of Matt Page with the storyline tugging from his coal mining family roots. This epic story about Clementine and Jack has been loosely based on the life of his grandparents.
The music on his CD is very difficult to pigeonhole, but in a way it grabbed my attention. The subtle layers of acoustic and electric guitars, banjo and the emotional singing coupled with the beautifully crafted melodies, create an atmosphere that quite literally stirs the mind. Lost And Gone Forever is a true concept album and therefore the almost eighty minutes of music sound as a whole, although the individual songs last no longer than a couple of minutes. DTES doesn't have a keyboard player. Although they asked Alex Head to add several tasteful keyboard parts to the concept, they have a minor role in the music, since most parts are just supportive. If you'd asked me if I had missed essential keyboard parts on Lost And Gone Forever, I would have said that I hadn't. The songs are just so well-written with lots of passion and emotion that they don't need strong progressive rock tunes.
This time the electric guitars and banjos have a leading role instead of many layers of keyboards. However, the use of the banjo is not very common in this musical genre, but somehow this instrument was needed to tell the story of the Kentucky coal miner. As a result the music occasionally slightly tends towards Country & Western music. At the end of several tracks you can hear real C&W-tunes in the background which has been done magnificently. However, the progressive rock spirit is truly present throughout the album. On a regular base we hear traces of early Rush, especially the bass parts often reminded me of the way Geddy Lee played this instrument. However, several guitar riffs could have been played by Alex Lifeson, but also a band like Muse occasionally comes to the surface which fits the music perfectly.
This album is well worth to give a try. For people who gravitate toward progressive, intelligent structures or emotional and in-depth song writing, Lost And Gone Forever is a hidden gem that needs to be discovered.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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