Dreamscape: La-Di-Da Recordings

For people of a certain age, the title of Dreamscape's record can't help invoke Annie Hall's catch-phrase, though in the group's case it's a reference to the La-Di-Da label that issued Dreamscape's only twelve-inch release, the Cradle EP, in 1992. In fact, only four of this full-length collection's nine songs ever saw the light of day, with four constituting an unreleased 1993 EP intended to be issued under the title Greater Than God and the ninth the sole remaining demo for what was intended to be a series of new recordings but that never came to fruition. La-Di-Da Recordings is therefore an attempt to rewrite history and bring the Bristol-based trio of Rebecca Rawlings, Scott Purnell, and Jamie Gingell exposure they should have received twenty years ago, given that Dreamscape's entire discography consists of a 1990 seven-inch single (Blackflower / Evergreen released on Turntable Friend) and the aforementioned Cradle EP.

Even a single listen to the release makes one thing clear: either Dreamscape's sound was years ahead of its time, or in its fundamental form electronic pop hasn't undergone revolutionary change since the early ‘90s. The trio's pulsating pop fits seamlessly into the shoegaze tradition of yore and sounds even less dated when heard in the context of chillwave. It's hard to believe that songs as strong as “Separate Sense” and “Greater Than God” have never appeared formally until now, so all praise to kranky for righting that egregious wrong. A heavenly multitude of vocals and blurry guitar textures, the gauzy title track from the Cradle EP also presents the band at its hazy and subtly anthemic best, though others, such as “Nine Times to Die” and the entrancing meditation “Dreamsleep Eternal,” do much the same.

The songs nicely capture the band's sound in its essential form, with Rawlings' breathy and often multi-tracked voice gliding across aggressive guitar-based backdrops in Lush-like manner. And though Dreamscape opted to use an Alesis SR16 drum machine rather than an actual drummer, the songs don't suffer for sounding too metronomic, especially when their other elements prove so ear-catching. The band also wisely refrained from repeating a simple beat unwaveringly throughout a song but instead varied the drum patterns in such a way that the playing simulates a live musician's attack. La-Di-Da Recordings is a once-lost but now-available document of the early ‘90s that's also noteworthy for granting exposure to the poppier end of the kranky spectrum.

September 2012