Between 1998 and 2001, Washington State-based violist/violinist Anna Schaad self-released three albums of her playing in styles that ranged from Celtic to New Age, often throwing in blues and jazz elements that made for an eclectic mix, especially since she used both standard instruments and electric five-string violas and violins. Eight years later, Schaad reemerges on disc with her fourth album, Dream Within a Dream, which demonstrates that her musical development did not slow during her hiatus from the recording studio. This time, she has adapted herself to studio technology, using MIDI keyboards, drum loops, and samples, as well as downloading sound files from www.freesound.org, all to create instrumental beds for her compositions. As on her last album, The Journey, her chief human accompanist is percussionist Lauri Lyster, who adds even more unusual sounds to the computer-sourced ones. The result, while still remaining generally within the New Age genre, is a collection of music that borders on contemporary jazz, not to mention trance and trip-hop. Schaad's own string sound still rules over all, leading the music with airy melodies. But it is sometimes in competition with the complex soundscapes that also include spoken word and human beat box performances. On The Journey, Schaad conjured a fantasy forest world to which her music was the intended soundtrack. Dream Within a Dream is the music for another kind of fantasy, closer to science fiction or virtual reality. But somewhere in there, some terrific string playing is being done.
Dream Within a Dream Review
by William Ruhlmann