Dream- A succession of images, thoughts or emotions. A vision occurring during sleep. Something of unreal beauty.
Aria- An air or melody. Elaborate.
Dream Aria, a Toronto-based four piece, set out to make music that is emotive, elaborate, evocative and melodic. If music was a painting, Dream Aria's palette would weave ambient groove, middle eastern vibes, techno and new age tones, blended on a canvass of rock, with some metal flourishes, a broad inkwash of goth and some delicate brush strokes of classical. But truthfully, the best way to describe their music is to think of it as a journey, a passage far removed from the daily grind of traffic jams and deadlines, lifting you off on some nearby astral plane, where, damn it, everything just sounds a little bit better.
Each journey needs a starting point and the obvious starting point when describing a band that mixes soaring female vocals with rock, goth, and classical strains would be to compare them to Within Temptation or Nightwish or any one of the other female-fronted symphonic metal bands. But this comparison sputters to a halt as Dream Aria has none of the symphonic bombast or classical ambition of the aforementioned bands. Instead they replace blast beats with middle-eastern percussion, extravagant theatrics with moments of ambient beauty and Gottenburg metal with melody.
Now, that's not to say they don't rock. "Spirit," starts the journey off, gently gliding through the atmosphere with an ambiance of percussive beats and synthesizer before the melody bubbles up from underneath like a boiling cauldron. Eastern horns and a great wah-wah guitar tone leap to the forefront as Ann Burstyn's dreamlike vocals layer on top. Don Stagg, the keyboardist and composer has created a swirling departure point for our journey, sailing off on a middle-eastern magic carpet of sound. This is a voyage across continents, or rather a collapsing of continents from separate rooted masses of land into one smoldering super-continent of music, where no native sound is ignored. He even throws a bagpipe outro into the mix. And it works. The total effect is exciting and vibrant, refreshingly new.
"Sungoddess," brings out the more majestic tones in Burstyn's voice, soaring over a propulsive polyrhythmic beat, splashes of power chords and goth synths. On other songs like "In the Wake-Body," "Blue Lady," and "Snapshot," Burstyn digs down into the depths of her vocal range, at times reminiscent of Siouxie Sioux in all of her goth mire. But when we talk about goth with Dream Aria, we're not talking about the self-obsessed-in-my-mysery, more-concerned-about-my-eyeliner-than-the-music broodiness of the latest trendy teenage goth-phase band. Rather Dream Aria are goth in the grandest terms of Gothic, as in Jane Eyre or
While Burstyn's vocals are clearly a focal point for the band, one thing that could easily be overlooked amongst the mesmerizing wash of synths and rhythms, is the stellar guitar work of Jozef Pilasanovic. Each track finds his guitar searching for new tones to drive between the spaces and crannies.
As our magic carpet weaves through the sampled middle eastern voices, polyrhythms and propulsive beats of songs like "Promise," "Raindrops," and onto "11th Hour," you quickly realize that Dream Aria have created that most amazing of albums; one that could just as easily be played as background music behind the incense laden air of a new age book store or blasting through the loudspeakers, warming up the audience before an Epica concert. Either way, the listeners in both settings would be just as mesmerized as the journey unfolds.
But don't take it from me. Follow the link below, jump on your own waiting magic carpet and take off on this journey for yourself.--Racer