To Dream, Perchance to Sleep


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To Dream, Perchance to Sleep Review

by Ned Raggett

That Frolic should end up on Projekt is no surprise, given that label's propensity for ethereal, melancholic music and haunting female (as well as male) vocalists. To Dream, the trio's second full effort and its Projekt debut, puts its best foot forward from the start -- "The Tides of March" may have a punning title, but the combination of echoed yet powerful drums, waves, and rain samples and O'Brien's keening vocals set a striking, evocative mood. Chinn's expertise and art with keyboards and arrangements define the sound and atmosphere of the album and songs at the core, with O'Brien's singing and Beard's occasional vocals as well as guitar adding to the exquisite, slow unwinding of To Dream in restrained ways. Chinn's ear for what to include is striking -- not content to simply include synth washes and leave it at that, crisp, stuttering rhythms straight out of Warp Records' avant-techno sound appear on "Breathing in My Soul." Elsewhere, a slightly tribal touch initially surfaces on "Stay," while a chiming keyboard loop provides the lead melody for the title track. O'Brien's lyrics are generally audible without demanding direct attention; she's swathed in deep layers of echo and at points watery reverb that sometimes nearly drown her, but often coincide with the music's elegance in attractive fashion. Beard in contrast has a slightly clearer, stronger approach, almost jarring in context when it first appears on "Forever Forlorn," but still holding to the overall pace of To Dream, sounding not unlike Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance at points. If a comparison could be made, a possibility could be Slowdive's underrated exploration of ambient approach Pygmalion, with less emphasis on rock band sonics and more of sound qua sound. While no one song on To Dream leaps out from the rest, as a whole the album makes for a fine listen for those inclined to such material.

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