This Specific Dream
posted on 10/2007 By:
It’s been a quiet year for the post-metal/rock crowd. (Well, I guess it’s possible it’s been a year that’s built slowly and gracefully but will crest to a mammoth crescendo of powerful releases at the end of the year, but I digress.) Aside from the mammoth Given to the Rising—and let’s face it, progenitors Neurosis do their own thing on a separate plane—only occasional contributions such as those from Minsk and Rosetta have demanded much attention. The second album from Milwaukee instrumental contingent This Specific Dream is actually one of the more interesting albums the genre has produced just lately, and although that doesn’t cleanly translate to a glowing recommendation, these guys have the chops to contribute something to the genre in their own voice, which is refreshing.
Ohm consists of four expansive, dreamlike instrumentals ranging from seven to twenty-one minutes long. The songs typically unfurl quite slowly, developing without standard linear build-ups and crushing noisy climaxes. Instead, This Specific Dream are more likely to suddenly devolve into spacey ambience that crops up in the strangest of places. The band uses a broad palette, employing boatloads of clean melodies, often placid and soothing, but just as often in the quirky melodic dialogue between guitar and bass lines; ambience through contrasting airy passages and buzzing, chirping programmed noisiness; and occasionally the band dishes out some viscous, distorted sludge riffery. If Pelican had tempered their move toward a cleaner and more accessible approach with a commitment to complexity and off kilter arrangements mixed with a bit of early Pink Floyd, their last album might have sounded something like Ohm.
The band uses every one of their tricks on “Cicada,” which ends up pushing the track over the 20-minute mark. During much of the song there’s plenty of the buzzing drone that its title suggests, but in other places the song leisurely meanders from warm lucid melodies to dynamic weighty build-ups. The band does a nice job of giving each instrument a distinct voice and role, and knowing when to layer and when to converge to hammer their point home. “Mode Seven” is the other marathon track of the four, and offers some of the heaviest moments of the album. That leaves the two shorter songs: “A Slight Intermission,” which is active enough to suggest a misnomer, but somehow in the context of Ohm (and sandwiched as it is between those two monstrous tracks), it seems to serve just that purpose, at least during its reflective opening and closing measures. The middle of the track, like opener “The Ark,” relies on catchy melodic business, although the latter abandons its course at the midway point in favor of extended atmospheric, swirling ambience that persists for the majority of the track, even providing a lush cloak for the reemergence of the full band and the song’s central theme.
The first time through Ohm, I was thinking we might have a true contender on our hands. But although my scores and descriptions indicate my appreciation of the album, there’s some as yet unnamed barrier that causes me to keep this album at arm’s length. I enjoy it every time I spin it, and this is the kind of album that’s tough to score, as the real test will be in waiting for the future replay value to settle in. To say it another way, there’s something just missing or something great yet to be discovered here. Either way, Ohm is well worth exploring, and This Specific Dream is a band to watch.
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