There are many albums made for the daylight and nighttime hours, but it’s not easy to find twilight music or compositions that speak to the moments between asleep and awake — as dreams are ending but not done and full consciousness has not yet set in.
Anonymous London-based producer Dream Ending’s self-titled album — releasing via Data Airlines on Sunday, May 20 — lives up to the promise and concept that the name suggests. The eight-track, 41-minute experience is the ideal soundtrack for the transitional, crepuscular spaces, when kinesis is kicking in but anything too overt is inappropriate. It’s not for springing out of bed, abruptly ending your dream with a violent propulsion into the day’s activities. That’s for sure.
The arrangements are intricate and layered: arpeggiated synthesizers, sound effects, synth pads, and guitars unfurl all around each other in a tempered cascade of anticipation and serenity, creating a kind of transcendence built on the musical expressions of people like Philip Glass, Manuel Göttsching, Klaus Schulze, and Brian Eno. All of this is undergirded by a profound exercise in minimalism — never may too many constituent parts of a song compound more than a composition absolutely requires.
Dream Ending’s deep sense of nuance and subtlety is ever present on “Sky Swim.” If you consider the title, it conjures up a freewheeling style of flight with an air of suspension inherent in swimming in water. The instruments speak to this idea. The synths bubble and pulsate in a memorable chord progression that is slowly and methodically manipulated and bent as more instrumental parts are added. Clean guitar notes run up and down the fretboard and crystalline melodies abound. But then, as the track winds down, the instruments start to lose their grip and dissolve into a sea of delay decay before finally there’s nothing.
“Voyaging” — released today on Vehlinggo two days before the album comes out — is a fascinating and inspiring composition. A spacey guitar leads the way, buoyed by tempered synth stabs and dreamy synth leads in the distance. The entire experience is a sizable dose of ethereal bliss — a nuanced sonic manifestation of one’s consciousness traveling between worlds.
“Icaria” is an assured march into the crepuscular way, blending tones and colors that work wonders in bridging the gap between worlds. It flows like a pronounced score cue, led by a propulsive synth bass, around which percussion trickles like ice, synth pads tremolo, and a delayed and clean guitar unfurls its circular, arpeggiated blast. The tightly composed but nevertheless meandering quality reminds one of the exquisite marine-drone duo Seahawks — the highly-focused but nevertheless loose quality gives the listener permission to be unshackled from certainty.
Dream Ending is said to have embarked on this sonic journey after purchasing an old Akai reel-to-reel deck accompanied by several tapes, including a dream diary. After which, the producer proceeded to embark on a journey during twilight hours to record a contemplation on dreaming and how we can interact with the lucid dreaming space.
Overall, I think those efforts paid off. Dream Ending has created an outstanding and masterful eight-song meditation on the complicated and fragile relationship between sleep and awake, night and day, dreams and reality. It’s a revelatory project, to be sure. Anyone who needs a soundtrack to their practice of transcendence will surely find much to embrace here, but I think anyone with a pulse is going to find bliss in this release.
The self-titled album releases via Data Airlines on May 20.
(Full disclosure: I listened to and reviewed this album primarily between the hours of 4:30 and 6:30 a.m. to achieve full understanding of the project’s scope and intent.)