- by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2016-03-11 Label: Cardinal Fuzz
Like being lobotomized by sonic waves, Dreamtime’s self-titled debut is a loud proclamation of the mind-bending properties of heavy psychedelia. Initially released in very limited vinyl five years ago in Dreamtime's homebase in Brisbane, Australia, the good folks at Cardinal Fuzz have exhumed its worthy bones, and repackaged it with artwork that looks like an evil one-eyed stag being morphed into an avatar of mother nature, its beastly head assuming the innocuous aesthetic of a stripped gum tree.
That's my straight impression. Rorshachs interpretations are fun but not necessarily my strength.
Dreamtime’s influences are as diverse as King Crimson, Black Sabbath and CAN, and for modern comparison try Bardo Pond, Dead Meadow, Hills, Boris, Moon Duo, Follakzoid or even Opeth. It’s heavier than most self-proclaimed psych-rock, but not as weighty or doom-filled as Sunn 0))) for instance.
Dreamtime’s soundstage on the S/T debut is dense, but what saves the music from being banished within the grey shadows is some crisp percussion, and some superlunary effects like high female vocals, ringing wah-pedalled guitar, and B-Movie trailer-style voiceover.
As they’re not aiming at the popular music market, song composition is hurled out the window. They prefer the exploration of musical textures through improvisational jamming, metallic riffing and fucking around with time signatures. ‘Slag’ is a great example, start as it does with guitars revving like some kind of psychedelic grand prix before the female vocalist tries to temper the heavy vibe with pleading supplication. At 3:19 a high priest presides over the vocal. I tried not to hear the vocal, for fear I might commit some atrocity at its command. It sounds quite ritualistic, and the female vocalist does seem to ramble a bit in response; the guitars screeching forward before a brilliant fuzz-out postlude.
‘Gympie’, apart from being a town north of Brisbane with an oversized pineapple for a tourist attraction, is also a stonking psych-rock number which somehow, and I’m yet to work it out, manages a soothing prance akin to mid-level trance/EDM. It starts out as an alternate, but better, version of [anything] Emerson Lake and Palmer but ascends to much more interesting heights as the guitars get louder, mimicking a hyena crying out in the silent wilds. Midway, a lovely thing happens, male and female vocalists harmonise over some narcotic downbeats, and the whole thing is beautifully candlelit.
Not everything on Dreamtime is as spellbinding. Í found ‘Robe’ to be a meandering 1970s rock number with an interesting passage about two-thirds the way through, but the ornery path chosen beforehand had my fingers hovering over the fast forward.
Dreamtime went on to record a superior album ‘Sun’ (also being re-released) which expanded their sound further with eastern influences, krautrock and 1960s influences. The self-titled nonetheless has moments of brilliance, obviously realised by their new label.