Overwhelmingly interesting and extremely variant, Jon Hassell's Dream Theory in Malaya is rescued from the stereotypical new age recipe, thanks to its ever-changing instrumental structure and the use of numerous eccentric instruments that emerge as the album progresses. The album's concept is taken from an anthropologist's 1935 study of a tribe of Malaysian aborigines who made it part of their daily routine to discuss the dreams they had the night before. To this story line, Hassell has created a novel and extraordinary set of instrumental meanderings that even includes a refurbished and re-fragmented set of rhythms that was believed to be created by the Semelai tribe. The mixture of bowl gongs, bells, and assorted drums captures the primeval spirit of the album, while Hassell's use of the trumpet on all of the tracks implements some of today's modern sound amongst the percussiveness. Brian Eno lends a hand on "Courage," "Dream Theory," and "These Times," playing drums and bells, while the entire album was spotlessly engineered by Daniel Lanois. Without coming off as an album that is restrained in clichéd patterns and tempos, Jon Hassell makes sure the instruments fluctuate and change time signatures on a steady basis, enabling added attention to be given to the culmination of the music as a whole.
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AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne