Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Edgar Allan Poe
Whether or not today’s feature act are named after a song by Iron & Wine, Steve Vai, Dashboard Confessional, or just after a particularly trippy evening under the influence of a nasty illness, they’re tapping into one of the classic subject matters of musical history, that of dreams.
The origin and evolution of the word dream is a fascinating example of the ability of language to morph and adapt with time; it has come to have two meanings that are at once separate and entirely entwined. Dreams as the imaginary, flights of fancy of our subconscious whirring away whilst we sleep, came to be so linked with our hopes and aspirations, that the word became interchangeable. So when Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and told the world that he had a dream, we knew that it mattered not if it was an actual vision of his sleeping mind, or an aspiration for the future of civil rights across America.
Dreams are almost as popular with musicians as they are with politicians, and everyone from The Everly Brothers, with the sweet to the point of being almost pure sugar All I Have To Do Is Dream, through to Emmylou Harris’ stunningly beautiful I Will Dream have at some point skirted over the subject. Heck, via the shoegaze, slowcore, nu-gaze whatever you want to call it spin-off Dream Pop, there’s even a whole sub-genre dedicated to trying to replicate the sound of dreams via washes of reverb heavy, slowly unfurling melodies and a general sense of pleasant warmth – just like a good dream it’s rather wonderful!
That said our last dream involved being hit in the teeth by a cricket ball, not sure who’s writing songs about dreams like that?
Fever Dream are the trio of singer and guitarist Adey Fleet, bass player Sarah Lippett and drummer Cat Love.
Rapid, heavy drums, soaring buzz saws of reverberating guitar noise, low rumbling bass and vocals buried low in the mix, pitched somewhere between No Age and The Secret Machines. The overall affect is of a tune heavy version of shoe-gaze, taking the basic sonic palette of the genre and spinning more than just a wall of noise from their list of influences. At times they recall The Stills or even the best bits of Placebo.
They’re London based, and well established on the current underground scene that is seeing bands like Night Flowers, Tigercats and Feature emerge with a variety of contrasting styles that still manage to meld together into a cohesive scene – exciting times for music in London despite the rising costs of living in the capital, let alone making music.
The band formed back in 2010, and released an EP on Underused Records in 2012, a single on Odd Box Records followed before they committed to Club AC30, who will release the bands debut album Moyamoya on April 27th.
There’s a wonderful conflict at the nerve centre of this record. The songs are packed with hooks, big catchy choruses and an undeniable sense of pop but that essence is disorientated by walls of alarmingly powerful noise. The drums in particular are a brutal blur of sound, Cat playing with the sort of raw power that you normally associate with a punk or metal band. In contrast, Sarah’s bass is a languid wall of slowly unfurling atmospheric noise, which gives the record an almost claustrophobic feel, where the music is given little room to breathe, and gives their debut album a wonderfully coherent feel.
Adey’s guitar work is a thrilling contradiction, on the one hand catchy and tuneful, but on the other run through walls of wailing distortion to the point you barely recognise the melodies beneath. They cut through the fog of bass and drums, only to substitute them with another layer of cloudy reverb. The band’s ability to fuse three instruments into such a thrillingly full sound is a master-stroke!
The slower numbers, including the oddly downbeat Dance Forever are moody, smouldering and angsty with shades of the late 1990’s ilk of My Vitriol or The Smashing Pumpkins. The excellent Glue would be one of the few tracks that we could justify using the slowcore tag for!
Moyamoya is one of the most consistently thrilling debuts of the year, this is a band who are taking a genre of music and infusing it not with nostalgia but with a progressive touch that takes the listener into exciting new territory!
All the usual criticisms of the genre apply, you can’t hear the lyrics, it all sounds like a big wash of sound, can’t he just cheer up a bit? Well yes, if you don’t like shoe-gaze then you wont like Fever Dream, but it’s truly your loss, because letting this beautiful noise wash over you, is an absolute pleasure!
Moyamoya is out April 27th on Club AC30. Fever Dream play The Oddbox Weekender at The Shacklewell Arms May 1st, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen May 11th, The Lexington May 31st and at Indietracks in July.