Dream The Electric Sleep – Beneath The Dark Wide Sky – Album Review

hi res_Final BTDWS Cover

Artist: Dream The Electric Sleep

Album Title: Beneath The Dark Wide Sky

Label: Mutiny Records

Date Of Release: 22 July 2016

Dream The Electric Sleep are a difficult band to review for numerous reasons. Firstly there’s the headache of trying to adequately pinpoint and understand the music. Secondly, once sufficient enlightenment has been reached, the challenge is to adequately describe the Dream The Electric Sleep output. And then finally, once the aforementioned has been achieved, there’s the conundrum of what I actually think about the music.

‘Beneath The Dark Wide Sky’ is the third album from Dream The Electric Sleep (henceforth referred to as ‘DTES’), the Kentucky USA based trio comprised of guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist Matt Page, drummer and vocalist Joey Waters and bassist Chris Tackett.

It is fair to say that the DTES musical formula has shifted and evolved over the course of their history. Beginning life as a band that was willing to try just about everything and who fully deserved the ‘prog’ tag, ‘Beneath The Dark Wide Sky’ is markedly different to these ears. In the past, the complaints aimed at DTES, including from me, were that their recordings were too long and were lacking in cohesion. Flashes of brilliance could be heard within the previous two discs, namely 2011’s ‘Lost And Gone Forever’ and 2014’s ‘Heretics’ but overall, I personally found them lacking enough magic to elevate them into the prog elite.

For album number three, it feels like DTES have figured that less is more and have therefore brought us an album that dials down the overt complexity and cleared out the clutter in favour of a much more homogenous record. Some might immediately argue that DTES have lost their ‘prog’ tag but if you listen to this record with an open mind, ‘Beneath The Dark Wide Sky’ certainly remains progressive in the wider sense of the term insofar as the trio have yet again tried new things and brought new elements to the table. But it does take a while to reach this epiphany admittedly.

On ‘Beneath The Dark Wide Sky’, DTES blend elements of post rock minimalism with the subtle beauty of shoegaze, a vague hint of electronic music, a honed and refined soupcon of progressive rock and even, dare I say it, indie music. Gulp.

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The positive thing about this album is that, however much I loathe and despise most indie music, the song writing on ‘Beneath The dark Wide Sky’ is strong enough to justify the presence of these more mainstream elements. It is very hard to deny the strength of the melodic choruses that crop up within the likes of ‘Flight’ and ‘Hanging Time’ for example. Plus there’s plenty of excellent musicianship to be heard throughout from all corners including several nice guitar solos that catch my ear. The former is actually a personal favourite despite the acoustic guitar opening which has more than a faint hint of the dreaded and interminably dull Coldplay within it. Credit therefore must be given to DTES for creating something so strong that it forces me to confront these deep-seated prejudices and reach a positive outcome in the process.

The final ingredient that I’ve yet to mention in this review thus far is the impressive amount of atmosphere that is present throughout the near hour-long album. The keys are used subtly and cleverly so as not to dominate the music but at the same time, there’s a welcome depth and richness that is created by the layers of synths, as well as sufficient light and shade to avoid monotony. The perfect example is the sensationally ominous and broody instrumental piece ‘We Who Blackout The Sun’. My absolute favourite on the album, I love the metallic guitar tones as the track explodes with full menacing force but with a killer vibe, great solo and a hook to snare me immediately.

Elsewhere, ‘Black Wind’ is a forceful stomping composition that demonstrates the rhythm prowess of both Waters and Tackett equally whilst ‘Headlights’ offers a more up-beat, almost happy four minutes that breezes past nicely.

As with the previous two albums, there remain a few moments within the eleven tracks that I don’t like quite as much, but overall, ‘Beneath The Dark Wide Sky’ is finally the album from Dream The Electric Sleep that I know for sure that I will return to for thoroughly enjoyable repeated listens in the future. Check out ‘Beneath The Dark Wide Sky’ post haste if modern progressive music is your weapon of choice.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.0

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
Karmakanic – Dot
Novena – Secondary Genesis
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

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