Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Dreamfall: Veils and Visions
Muamer Music (2007)

3 tracks, 58:45
Grade: A

Few subgenres of ambient have a greater ability to transport the listener than ethno-tribal when performed/recorded by an artist who knows what he/she is doing. I recall listening to albums such as Soma or Rainforest or more recent releases, e.g. The Shaman’s Dream or Moontribe and thinking how unlike any other type of ambient music they were. I would feel whisked away to caverns, dank and dark, or to humid landscapes where strange creatures lurked in the lush underbrush lit by campfires and populated by ancient peoples who practiced ceremonies of power and mystery. Such is the heritage of Dreamfalls: Veils and Visions from Na-Koja-Abad. Turn out the lights and prepare to find yourself in a primal, sensual and yet strangely comforting landscape.

Comprised of three tracks (twenty-five, twenty-three and ten-plus minutes in length), Dreamfall…is exquisite. Here is the highest praise I can give it: Few recordings cross my desk these days that I wish I had time to delve into and explore in detail. Such is the artistry of Dreamfall: Veils and Visions.

What puts this CD in the esteemed company of the ones I mentioned earlier? Perhaps the careful attention to detail which the artist brings to all the elements in the mix. On “Traversing the Dusk,” the opening track, what makes it work so well is the seamless integration of nature sounds, such as bird song, with the undulating drones, the electric guitar peals, the assorted shakers, rattles and rainstick. It’s so immersive, as if one were walking through this landscape - the sun setting, the shadows lengthening, and the hint of something not necessarily scary but certainly unknown and disquieting hanging in the air. After fifteen minutes of ambient-esque sound sculpting, Na-Koha-Abad folds in the tribal elements (frame and hand drums) and the sensuality of the piece elevates pronouncedly. The tempo is slow, sexual, primal and the heat is palpable. Obvious comparisons for me are to Soma, a huge compliment as I have many times stated I consider it a true masterpiece of ethno-tribal ambient music.

“Devouring the Sky” reverse the order of the previous track, starting off with the percussive elements (hand drums reminiscent of the recordings mentioned earlier with the exception of Rainforest) and water burbling over rocks. Liquid drones and dark shadowy synth textures flow over the beats. When the rhythms subside, drones take over and wave after wave of them wash over you, carrying you along in their eddy, but never in a threatening way, more as if to say “Come with us…we have wonders to show you.” Midtempo tribal drum beats and rattles slowly emerge from the darkness and as they intensify, you feel energized rather than terrified, as if you were heading toward something wondrous and fulfilling, not dark and disturbing. This sensation of a shadowy realm but not one of fear runs throughout Dreamfall…and it’s this juxtaposition (which Soma has as well) which makes the CD so alluring, intoxicating and begs the listener to return time and time again.

The shorter drone-centered final track, “Garden of the Ineffable” is not so much an anti-climax as it is the inevitable arrival at the apex of the journey…a heartbeat rhythm melds into a series of drones and washes amidst scattered percussion and welcoming chorals (by Aida Moćević), and you realize you are home. Not the comfortable home of your hearth but the home you yearned for in your dreams, a place of fulfillment and enlightenment where knowledge is all and awareness is consummate.

Whew! Na-Koja-Abad impressed me with his previous release, Deluvia. Here, he raises the bar higher still, working in a more atmospheric and less dark but still haunting vein, crafting music which transports me to a world that I wish I could visit in reality. This is an indulgent album, one to patiently wade through and digest, to savor and linger over, until you feel sated by the sheer magic of its mystery. Highly recommended.

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