Advanced Dreams: Islands of Memory

Islands of Memory presents seventy-nine minutes of atmospheric dub-techno from Advanced Dreams, an outfit formed by Russian duo Alexander Shirokov and Dmitry Bodunov in 2005. On their first album following digital releases on Dewtone Recordings and Kahvi Collective, the pair show they're as adept at producing deep dub-techno as anyone on the Echocord and Echospace [Detroit] labels. Like producers such as Fluxion, Echospace, and DeepChord, Advanced Dreams isn't averse to letting its material stretch out either, with four of the album's six tracks pushing past the ten-minute mark. The typical piece sees Shirokov and Bodunov augmenting burbling chords with charging micro-beat patterns and an ongoing parade of samples. Such a simple description hardly conveys the huge sound of the average Advanced Dreams production: in fact, the ambient haze the duo generates in the album tracks is so immense, it can feel at times as if one is being swallowed whole.

Armed with pulsating bass lines and enveloping washes, the luscious opener “Morphia” takes the listener on a scenic, seventeen-minute journey through rain-soaked spaces and warm valleys. Reverb-drenched to the extreme, the track subtly shape-shifts as it moves through funk-laden episodes and others dominated by industrial noises and voice samples. Driven by the thump of a bone-dry bass pulse and a skeletal hi-hat-and kick drum combination, “2am” evokes the mystery and stillness of city streets devoid of people yet illuminated by streetlights and skyscrapers. “Leaving Islands of Memory” likewise thumps with serious purpose, this time with a greater locomotive force. Even more luscious is “Blue Night,” an unstoppable, twenty-minute colossus of Echospace-like design wherein chords endlessly ricochet and beats stampede; the degree of immersion offered by the material is capable of inducing, in this case especially, an altered state. At album's end, the languorous plod of “Blur Flower” offers a less frenetic comedown after the amazing ride that is “Blue Night.”

If you've read this far, you've probably figured out the obvious knock against Islands of Memory, which is that if you're the proud owner of recordings by the aforesaid artists, Advanced Dreams' outing, as polished as it is, won't add a whole lot more to what you've already got. But if you're coming to the dub-techno genre for the first time or your appetite for said genre refuses to be satisfied, Islands of Memory will provide a more than engrossing listen.

March 2014