|Weird Dreams||Luxury Alone|
Weird Dreams — Luxury Alone (June 10th, 2016) ♠°♠ Weird Dreams is the nom de plume of the now Paris~based multi~instrumentalist, Doran Edwards. New record, Luxury Alone, represents a transformation from the 2012 debut album Choreography’s guitar and harmony driven powerpop, to a more introspective synth and fantasy focused sound.
♠°♠ Luxury Alone was inspired at different points by the work of Daido Moriyama, Robert Ashley, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Eliane Radigue and Broadcast. An abstraction of personal, private emotion and a projection of a fantasy image, the album was written, recorded and mixed in a 4 year period of uncertain times that documents loss, de~realisation and the constructing of a new identity.Location: Paris, France ~ London, UK
Album release: June 10th, 2016
Record Label: Tough Love (London)
01 Binary 4:14
02 Heaven’s Hounds 5:11
03 The Ladder 4:01
04 Neon Erotic 1:10
05 Mirror 4:25
06 Fantasy Building 7:08
07 Digital Water 5:29
08 Chalk Scrawls 3:58
09 Calm 4:54
10 Days 3:36
° Doran Edwards
Edwards was joined by
° Dave Wade Brown and Michael Bateson~Hill in the studio, and plays live as a five piece with
° Bateson~Hill (Keys),
° Samuel Mason (Guitar, Backing Vocals),
° Matt Turner (Bass) and
° Cedric Monzali (Drums).
° Recorded at Total Refreshment Centre
° Mastered at Analog Heart
° Collin Fletcher Artwork, Design
° Jorge Anthony Stride Photography
° Doran Edwards Written, Producer, Mixed
° Kristian Craig Robertson Recorded
° Limited edition in translucent sky blue vinyl.
° Includes digital download card and obi.♠°♠ “When it hurts we return to the banks of certain rivers” — C. Milosz, I Sleep a Lot (1962)
♠°♠ Luxury Alone is a collection of songs made over a four~year period of uncertain times in different rooms in various homes. Four years, in an order something like this:
♠°♠ In those early days when we knew it could not continue, everything simply stopped. Falling to pieces in that empty room of memories. You were my window to the world, and this notion went deep. Everything familiar had dissolved, or fell away, on the outside and in.
♠°♠ Fetishizing love and death in anthropomorphic songs that no~one would ever hear. A hundred songs. Phrases repeating themselves: “kiss the canal like an old friend”; “I crave to be near water”; “my soul lay down”. And a swimming pool cover with a dead weight sinking in the centre, cocooned in brilliant blues.
♠°♠ Trying so hard to be new, or anything, I drew your face on to mine and cried from one eye (ref. ‘Heaven’s Hounds’)
♠°♠ A new home with an old friend, then another... Some loved, most left. I began to write very close harmonies, sets of my voice, trying to create a feeling of community, but it wasn’t real (ref. ‘Mirror’). A night left lying in the snow in the middle of the road, complete resignation to the sky, and then, nothing. All ones and zeroes, no space for colour (ref. ‘Binary’).
♠°♠ Suffering with derealisation, anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. Watching life happen as a spectator in a silent body, eventually not knowing how to behave like myself, or anyone else (ref. ‘Chalk Scrawls’). My entire body vibrating like a tuning fork, that constant sound in perfect isolation.
♠°♠ For a while I lay on the floor of an old lady’s house in Woodford where I grew up, eyes closed, a student to the autogenic process. Guiding me through instruction, calming crisis points with repeated mantras: “My heartbeat is calm and regular” and “I am at peace”. New ideas to affect a change, any change (ref. ‘Calm’).
♠°♠ I became close with the work of Daido Moriyama, Robert Ashley, Eliane Radigue, Yasuaki Shimizu, Gareth Williams, Horoumi Hosonoe and always Ryuichi Sakamoto, I began to recognise a new identity, mapped in the details of every song. A hundred more songs. Recording with Kristian, building a new band around me, and obsessively experimenting through the whole process (ref. ‘Fantasy Image’).
♠°♠ Abstracting personal, private issues I began removing the emotion in the vocal delivery and instrumental parts. Contrasted with synthesiser pads heavy with emotion and pushing an idealistic fantasy, somewhere between real and non~real. Trying to connect with something, to feel a tenderness whilst distorting sincerity.
♠°♠ All this music is how I felt in the world. I eventually choose to learn to mix the record myself, design my own fantasy image and then have that world disappear.
♠°♠ Luxury Alone is hundreds of songs down to just ten.AllMusic Review by Heather Phares; Score: ****
♠°♠ During the four years between Weird Dreams’ debut album Choreography and Luxury Alone, Doran Edwards experienced profound changes: The band became a solo project; he moved to Paris; and the uncertainty in his life led to battles with depression and anxiety. Throughout it all, he never stopped writing songs, and he found inspiration — as well as calm — in the work of writers such as Robert Ashley and musicians including Ryuichi Sakamoto, French electronic composer Eliane Radigue, and Broadcast. While Luxury Alone’s synth~pop mantras are a radical transformation from the jangly Choreography, they also sound surprisingly natural. It’s as if Doran’s music grew into the Weird Dreams moniker, allowing him to express his fantasies and visions in therapeutic ways. The lingering bits of psychedelia on Luxury Alone emphasize the heightened state of mind on these songs, with the trippy keyboards and basslines on “Binary” and “Heaven’s Hounds” evoking Nick Nicely’s psychedelic synth~pop experiments in the ‘80s. All of Edwards’ choices on the album have symbolic weight, whether it’s the way his deadpan vocals on “Chalk Scrawls” poignantly convey his experiences with depersonalization or how the layers of harmonies reflect different selves on “Mirror.” His use of watery atmospheres and imagery is inspired, with ambient instrumentals such as “Neon Erotic” and the seven~minute “Fantasy Building” emphasizing that Luxury Alone began as a dream world Edwards built to renew himself. However, Weird Dreams still writes masterful pop songs. Chief among them is “The Ladder,” which contrasts restless lyrics like “Let me hear your tears spiral out of control/I miss my friends” with one of the album’s prettiest melodies and arrangements. Here and on “Calm”, it feels like Edwards is talking himself into a state of serenity and bringing listeners along with him; elsewhere, “Days’” aching seclusion and “Digital Water”’s urgency hint that the need for retreat and the need for change are each other’s flipsides. Though the album takes its time to unfold, it’s worth it; Luxury Alone is a rare blend of vulnerability and beauty that puts Weird Dreams on a new level.
Q: You’ve said that ‘Luxury Alone’ is hundreds of songs, cut down to just ten. How did you go about whittling down to ten? How do you decide what makes the final cut?
°♠° It was a steady progression over 3 years. In late 2012 everyone who was playing in Weird Dreams either moved to another country, or out of London, and as I had always written everything anyway, I continued working on things the way I always had. I met two musicians — Dave Wade Brown and Michael Bateson~Hill — and began to work through new material, but still fairly lacking in solid direction.
°♠° Michael plays guitar, piano, oboe and saxophone, and so I began to want him to play more and more keys parts. I was using, what were, at that time, very Pet Sounds inspired slash chords for piano that I was playing on guitar, back onto keys.
°♠° From this I think a process began to form, and I was slowly discovering a new personality / identity in myself (and gradually discovering Robert Ashley, Éliane Radigue and digging deeper into a life time love; Ryuichi Sakamoto and so many incredible artists he collaborated with or played with in YMO. Also Yasuaki Shimizu and Hideki Matsutake. OPN also) and just allowing the sound to come with me. There were full albums of material, lots of discarded tracks that we recorded…. but I needed to keep developing a sound that did not fulfil clichés in the vocal delivery, the instrumentation, the song dynamics.
°♠° I wanted a very deep corporeal and emotional connection with the textures and timbres of the layers of synths, rather than it to be stated in the vocal, and so I mixed the record myself. It became its own very specific world / environment, that perhaps I needed to exist in, as I had become so disconnected from reality due to ongoing mental health difficulties.
°♠° As that sound formed into something absolute, I removed any songs that didn’t make sense to it, where, the playing was too expressive, or the lyrics too sentimental. Every single tone, texture, word, drone etc of Luxury Alone is intended to represent exactly how I was in the world and had been for as long as I can remember.
Q: This is an album born from uncertain times and difficult obstacles. Do you think this record served as a way for you to process and overcome what was going on?
°♠° Not in the sense that it felt like I was overcoming anything, or necessarily processing things — it’s just what I have always done. And as everything else in my life had, what felt like, suddenly fallen away, it was the only part of me I recognised. It was not 3 years of methodically working each moment of every day on these songs, I had breakdown after breakdown until it really felt like there was nothing and no one. It was, essentially, all I had.
Q: Do you think music in general is a cathartic thing, in that way?
°♠° No, I think music has a completely different meaning for each individual, and that varies in different cultures, whether you’re the author, or the audience. I don’t necessarily think that such internal and self~focused work like ‘Luxury Alone’ is a particularly good thing, with regards to creating progressive or interesting work, as it can seem solipsistic. But this was the album I had to make to bring myself back into the world, and I really hope it can help other people suffering from similar mental health difficulties by accepting the way you are and understanding that you don’t have to suffer silently. Musically, the future is out there, rather than in me.
Q: Repeated phrases and cyclic lyrics that come back around again are a big theme on this record. Why do you think that is?
°♠° Well, I would say largely because I could not move away from my own own mind, living in the hurt of the past and the fear and anxiety of the future — never present, just in a continuous loop. In every moment it felt like there was something blocking me from even basic interaction, and that eventually led to not knowing how to act like my ‘self’. Getting up in the morning, or even going into a shop started to become a huge problem, like a very numb groundhog day.
°♠° I had been silent about the anxiety, depression and derealisation I had always experienced but eventually decided — or had no choice due to certain circumstances and situations — to get more professional help and be honest with those around me. Letting the pressure out I guess. The loops began to dissolve, like the resolve you get at certain parts of the record, and at other points an uncertain atonal drone that sits somewhere in the sympathetic nervous system. That low feeling. The hyper fantasy of the synth sounds, the end of ‘Digital Water’, they’re just as important as these loops and cycles, as they create an antithesis to the emotion lacking in the vocal, and the dehumanising of the musicians performances. It plays with sincerity also, while the loops address different durations and a sense of atemporality within those infinite loops.
Q: Why did you feel it was important to “obsessively experiment” while making ‘Luxury Alone’? Or is that something you’re forever doing?
°♠° My tastes developed to a position that, at certain points, wasn’t concerned with contemporary music of any kind. I wasn’t getting anything from it, and so I would go to galleries on my own and found so much joy in artists like Josef and Annie Albers, Malevich, Bridget Riley, Daido Moriyama, Takuma Nakahira… mostly abstract work. This became my main interest and I felt like a lot of music wasn’t addressing itself enough, in terms of what it meant to create that thing, at that point in time. I felt disappointed with how much music seemed to originate from a single source of influence and its merits were based purely on its authenticity. It’s boring, and the context is weird. So I need to constantly experiment, in the way that everybody should constantly be experimenting. Music is digested and shit out at such rapidity due to infinite reproduction and content culture, that I really felt like, if I am to release anything, it needs to be worth the space it takes up, and not have the intention to serve that model. ♠°♠ http://diymag.com/
♠°♠ Holding Nails — 7” single
♠°♠ Choreography — album
♠°♠ House of Secrets — split 7” w/ Girls Names
♠°♠ Luxury Alone — album
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Eleanor McGuinness at Pitch & Smith firstname.lastname@example.org © DORAN EDWARDS. Weird Dreams 2016. Photo credit: Jorge Stride
|Weird Dreams||Luxury Alone|