It has been theorized that traumatic times cause the creation of great music. For example:
- Opression in Babylon brought us reggae.
- Social tensions erupted in the hippie pop explosion of the American 60's.
- The prolonged economic depression in England gave rise to 1977 punk rock.
If this is the case, then what the heck is going on in Canada now, specifically in the area around Toronto? I have listened to quite a lot of good music coming out of that area lately, including Mean Red Spiders, South Pacific, SIANspheric, and now, Datura Dream Deferred.
Whatever the trauma going on up there is, the music coming out of it is typified by guitars pumped through so much echo and chorus and reverb that the sound only vaguely resembles what you might normally think of as "guitar". The vocals are burried and blurry. The drums and bass throb and plod at a rhythm designed not so much for dancing as nodding your head slowly.
However, the music is not sludgy, but rather it is clear and clean. The notes, battered and bruised by a mass of pedals though they are, are precise. Each chimes in perfect placement with it's brothers. There is much musicianship at work here.
In one sense, the bulk of this Torontoan music is highly derivative of the "shoegazer" scene that popped out of the UK in the early 90's. You know: Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, Ride, etc. etc. Of course, it could be argued that all of that music was simply recycled Pink Floyd and Cocteau Twins. Whatever. The psychedelic space rock cultural zeitgeist is now located in Toronto. Who cares why, or who is derived from whom, simply enjoy it while you can! Somehow, for some reason, great spacey music is positively flowing out of Canada right now. And i, for one, am pleased.
Now, to return to my original question: what is wrong in Canada? Loneliness and isolation brought the freedom and release of reggae. Changing social mores bought the intense freedom of hippie pop. Economic depression brought angst in the form of punk.
This modern Canadian music is about: precision, clarity, control. Are the Canadians worried that they are being controlled, however unconsciously, by their bossy southern neighbor? Are they manipulating music so well to show that they are not powerless puppets of Hollywood and the American Entertainment Empire? Maybe that's what is causing this musical flourishing. I would apologize on the behalf of all Americans, but i am liking the musical output so much that i hope it continues.
That said, this album is the debut release of Datura Dream Deferred, who are, as i have already said, from the greater Toronto area. This is also a posthumous release, as the band have broken up and moved on. A few of the members are now in A Northern Chorus, from whom i look forward to hearing some recorded output this year.
Now, it might seem strange to review an independently released album by a defunct band. However -- if you are reading this website you have the capability to obtain this release for yourself right now (or in about on hour, depending on how fast your Internet connection is). You see, you can get this album in two ways:
- Track down A Northern Chorus at one of their gigs in the greater Toronto area, or
- download the whole durn album in MP3 form from A Northern Chorus's site at MP3.com.
I say -- get downloading. Take the advice posted on that site for how the songs should flow into one another, and then let 'er rip.....
This music flows and shimmers through 45 minutes of bliss. It's really a nice relaxing album, and yet, it won't put you to sleep (trust me, i've tried). I find that a lot of contemporary psychedelia (read as: post-rock) is so rhythmically slow that it almost like a lullaby. Here i am thinking of: Low, Labradford, AMP, Windy And Carl, etc. It is as if these bands think that the words "space" and "sleep" are synonyms. And that's all good and well -- i am not complaining here, merely observing. My point is that Datura Dream Deferred come more from the Spaceman 3 side of psychedelia: the rhythms might not exactly work in a mosh pit, but there is a definite groove going on. A movement through the dark depths of your subconsious.
The real standout for me is track 3, Daytime Fade. It starts with a guitar playing lightly strummed chords. The tremolo slowly builds until it is turned up so high that the notes disintigrate into a mass of fuzz. Slowly voice and another guitar chime in, until a wall of noise builds to a frenzied peak. It fades out lightly into Repeat And Resonate, which starts the process of building from guitar distortion all over again. "Ebb and flow" is, i think, a pretty accurate description of this album.
Anyway, i REALLY like this album. If you are a fan of introspective space rock, i think that you will like it too.
Let's hope that A Northern Chorus, aka what Datura Dream Deferred morphed into, continues to make music this interesting!