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dreamSTATE "Passage"
the long awaited follow up to "Between Realities"! Brilliant!

Fans of Toronto electronic artists dreamSTATE will no doubt be thrilled by the release of "Passage", a series of soundscapes specially created for an installation held in Goderich, Ontario. Inspired by the poetry of Lynn Harigan from her collection Moon Sea Crossing, "Passage" tells the story of Aina, an Irish immigrant who settles in Huron District during the 1840s. Her life during this time is filled with hardship and turmoil, ultimately resulting in a mental breakdown which leads to her being confined in the Huron District Gaol where her mental state further declines. Through a masterful creation of sound and environment, dreamSTATE is able to draw the listener into Aina's plight and brings her story to life in a powerful and haunting manner.

Meant to capture Aina's journey across the sea from Ireland to Canada, "Crossing" begins the album with slowly evolving oblique movement, environments and atmospheres coming into shape as tones become more pronounced and defined. As the track progresses, movement becomes displacement as calm and tranquil passages give way to darker and more forboding tones. When listening to this track one can't help but feel a passing from the safety of the known into the darkness of unsurety as Aina faces a new land and a new life.

Track two, "Clearing", uses more easily defined melodies and structure to tell its tale. The feeling of industry and hard labor as Aina and her family work to create a home for themselves is captured in the repeated phrases of the track, played counter to field recordings taken from the site of Aina and Thomas' farm. A sense of form gives a sense of safety here, a sense of connection to the earth, to the land, but an underlying dark drone suggests there are issues already at hand which will culminate in Aina's decline.

"Watershed" represents a turning point in the story, bringing to life a moment that ultimately leads to Aina's descent into darkness. Beginning with a calm and tranquil flow of pads and tones, the track moves from a peaceful security into a darker and more ominous tone, leading into track four, "Fall", which continues the sense of descent, sounds capturing the change of seasons, the slow loss of warmth and safety that leads into the winter months. Tones roil around eachother, spinning and coliding through the sound field, as if to suggest the confusion of thought and the battling emotions that have come with her breakdown. As the piece progresses, deeper drones open up, at first only subtly but slowly gaining strength, suggesting the abyss into which Aina is staring.

"Captive" captures the cold and hopeless feeling of Aina's stay in gaol, where the demons that haunt her mind are made physical through the horrible conditions she is made to bear. Bleak and desperate drones pass throughout the track, metallic sounds rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, slowly circling to match her descent. "Captive" manages to convey the sense of desperation and hopelessness Aina feels at this point, giving frightful sound to her torment.

Track six, "Stone and Sky" brings some sense of hope and light to Aina's plight. Inspired by the courtyard of the gaol in which she finds herself, the track captures the freedom and light that Aina's heart aspires to. Unfortunately this hope is shortlived as it leads into "Gyre", a haunting piece where strangled tones and constrained notes struggle to be heard above a metallic drone slowly snaking from ear to ear of the listener. Bleak and without hope, this track captures the darkness that has washed over Aina's mind.

And then it is done. "Watershed Reprise" finds Aina's return to her home, utilizing a return to the same calm and tranquil pads and tones to suggest a reunion with her family and the safety of clear thought. The clouds have lifted and she finds herself free once again, in body and in spirit.

As brilliant as it is emotional, "Passage" is a beautiful work by one of Toronto's premier electronic acts. Many lesser talents would find themselves lost in such a dark subject matter, but dreamSTATE are able to convey the scene, the situation and the emotions felt in a succinct and powerful way. A testimony to their sophistication and artistry, "Passage" is sure to become a classic of the genre.

rik - ping things

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last updated 11/11/10