Sunday, 14 April 2013

Review: Pete Namlook & Mixmaster Morris - Dreamfish 2 (1995) PW 16

Two years after the first Dreamfish album Pete Namlook and Mixmaster Morris return for a second aquatic ambient adventure. Aquarium is introduced by faint gong-like sounds, suggesting the fading light and sounds of life above sea level. If the first Dreamfish album was largely a snorkel in the shallows this introduction correctly indicates that Dreamfish 2 will be a much deeper dive. The sounds are sparser than last time around, the music a little darker and electronics softly judder and percolate, like fine collections of bubbles on a long journey to the surface. The synth pads may seem a little chilly but the bleeping ascending and descending electronics that made School of Fish so much fun on the first Dreamfish album are back to provide a subtle stylistic thread between the two records. The fish may be less colourful, there may be less of them and they may be stranger but overall this is no less beautiful or compelling than the first Namlook/Mixmaster Morris collaboration.
A current of pattering electronics hint at the direction of the next track, Caviar, and leads directly into it. Great waves of dark, menacing sound contrast with multiple layers of delicious, crisp, clicking, clacking electronic rhythms. Once again, this highly rhythmic offering suggests a fine mist of bubbles rising ever upwards, as weird fish with large, glaring black eyes swim through the semi-darkness and transparent creatures with glowing innards pass by. What else is lurking in the deep? When one considers that this record is now almost twenty years old the sonic sculpture offered up by this track is really quite stunning.
Caviar runs seamlessly into one final, lengthy piece of deep sea exploration from the Dreamfish team. Submerge, carried on long, reverb-drenched chords is an exploration of the deepest depths. A submersible searchlight picks up pale creatures, swimming along a trench on the ocean floor. Echo is expertly used, as the playful, bleeping electronics now only seem to appear fleetingly amidst these liquid textures.
In its own way this cold, barren seascape is no less attractive than the schools of fish near the surface and is all the more dramatic for charting vast oceans of the unknown. Whilst this perhaps isn't as euphoric as the first Dreamfish record, Dreamfish 2 is another (slightly darker) classic that should not be overlooked.  

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