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Dream the Electric Sleep (DTES): Lost and Gone Forever

Dream The Electric Sleep (or DTES as they like to call themselves), hailing from Lexington, Kentucky, is a progressive rock band who begin their journey into progressive history with an epic concept album, that took over two years to create, covering "the trials and tribulations of an Eastern Kentucky coal miner and his wife" (http://www.dreamtheelectricsleep.com/store.html, 2011). The album captures the bold vision of Matt Page, with the storyline tugging from his coal mining family roots. He was inspired to create this epic story of Clementine and Jack, loosely based on the life of his grandparents.

"DTES started in the winter of 2009, with guitarist and vocalist Matt Page, guitarist Trevor Willmott, and drummer Joey Waters (then members of the band "Jack"). They recruited bassist Chris Tackett, to round out the team for DTES" (from the DTES website).

This album is a thriller debut album for any band. They have made a mark which will rank them high on this year's best album lists for me and the many others who are fortunate enough to experience this album. Although most bands try to create a debut that will capture the attention of many, few are willing to commit themselves to creating an epic 72 minute opus as their debut. That is normally reserved for the sophomore; follow up album, when presumably you have more money and the attention of fans.

Did I say epic? Put on your headphones and enjoy this over 75 minute journey of an album and lifestory...

The album opens in the present with memories as "Lost and Gone Forever" kicks off with a warning shout before the sound of blasting in the mine. The couple, Jack and Clementine think back over the 80 some odd years of their life to find meaning. One of the best tracks on the album full of great effects, rocketing Rush - like guitar riffs and chords, deep bass, a slow drum salute and banjo to give it that Kentucky flavor. The vocals are also unique but have a Gilmouresque sound, especially when the echoing backing vocals are added.

"Coal Dust and Shadows" opens with drums and guitar as Clementine narrates the story with memories of the past. ""Life has changed so, but hasn't changed me". "If you listen I will pass down my story". "So much is always left behind in coal dust and shadows". When Matt screams that last line you can really feel the emotion. Excellent guitar work, mixed well with bass and solid drums.

"Canary" opens with Jack taking over the narration and that wonderful banjo added for flavor. The bird that is so important to any miner's life brought into comparison with a wife waiting for her husband's return each day. Excellent vocals and instrumentation backing a strong storyline.

"The Joneses" is another bold highlight of the album. This one has a heavier edge as the story continues with the growth and development of a family life, keeping up with the Joneses. The pace of the music matches the pace of life as the electric guitar brings back the power of early Rush classics. Matt's vocals start out loud and keep pace with the driving drums, bass, and guitars, but later match some of the highs I remember from Kino's Picture album. The opening is a great match with the spirit of those two bands, before the heavier grinding guitars and power drums slow things down and percolate the soundscape. With over 8 minutes, the band takes its time and weaves an intricate melody of bass and guitar work that is stunning. Easily one of the best tracks on the album. They even conjure some Roger Daltry with "Rain on the ground, run underground, bathe me".

"Roots and Fear" is another song which will have you remembering that catch line long after the song and album end. "There's nothing holding us down, but roots and fears". Imagine the spirit of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" with a full complement of prog and heavy guitar music. As the song closes there is a wonderful slow electric guitar solo…

…which drifts quietly into the bass lines on "Stay on the Line". This is one of Matt's better vocals as he begins to raise the level of his voice even further. This song has a Marillion meandering guitar melody which brings back memories of its own. The guitar soling is some of the best on the album. Remember being eighteen? "No I'm not scared to open up this time". The track ends with an excerpt from an old union rallying song. Excellent!

With "Hold Steady Hands", Matt seems to conjure his best Geddy Lee vocal. "Take these seeds and plant them and grow them again". The guitar work helps support the Rush influence, with a country twinge to keep it sounding original.

Cool, key –like effects open "Listen to Me" along with banjo and guitar for another great album highlight. That Rush – like echoing guitar building steam with the bass and drums will bring back all sorts of memories. Another epic of over 8 minutes of great music, lyrics and vocals.

"Echoes Chasing Echoes" opens as a wonderful acoustic guitar song full of rich melodies and impressions. Later, the banjo signals the emergence of a very cool full on stream of powerful guitars, bass and drums, along with those Geddy Lee –like vocals. This album has so many highlights, but this one will rivet you to the speakers or headphones.

"Sundown" opens with sound effects before the banjo and what sounds like keys surround the soundscape. Then the bass drums and guitar take over. Another climbing roar of power lead guitar and vocals with the pumping drums in support turns this one wild fast.

"No Air Left" is a short acoustic guitar, banjo and vocal presentation. A great break in the action.

More of those cool key – like guitar chords open "Feel My Way", before an almost choir of vocals cry to reach the surface after a mining cave collapse. "Don't tell me this is how it ends" "Just help me feel my way".

Power guitar and drums with vocals to match open "This is This", after the sound effects subside. The regrets of mistakes made. "How do we make sense of it all?"

How to close an epic of these proportions? "What Will Be" is a quiet slow trickle after all of the blasting that has gone before it. A perfect way to seal this classic epic with a memory which will leave a lasting impression. This time Matt's voice takes on a great mix of the Rogers, both Hodgson and Waters. "The future's not ours to see, que sera".

This one gets an easy 5 out of 5 stars-did I say epic? One of the best albums of the year and one of the best debuts I have heard in a while.


Track Listing
1.Lost and Gone Forever
2.Coal Dust and Shadows
3.Canary
4.The Joneses
5.Roots and Fear
6.Stay On the Line
7.Hold Steady Hands
8.Listen to Me
9.Echoes Chasing Echoes
10.Sundown
11.No Air Left
12.Feel My Way
13.This Is This
14.What Will Be

Added: May 15th 2011
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4470
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Dream the Electric Sleep (DTES): Lost and Gone Forever
Posted by Matt Page on 2011-05-31 21:00:01
My Score:

Anonymous... thanks for the comment.

I wanted to just followup as the singer and lyricist from the band and state that this was not factual in any way. I think you would be right in saying this should not be listened to as some sort of truth. It is a fantasy. Coal mining is certainly part of my family history, and the stories and mythology surrounding the album are cobbled together via interpretation. Art is a way to rethink ones relationship to the world and to histories, and this is such an attempt. The images, and the narrative interpretation are at the service of a narrative based on a husband and wife's relationship, loosely based around my own relationship. There were many influences on the album besides coal mining, (marriage, the death of both grandparents, the loss of histories) and I certainly would hate for the factual inaccuracies to detract from the narrative and emotive subtexts. Thanks again for the feedback, I would rather make work that is polarizing than indifferent.

Matt Page

Dream the Electric Sleep (DTES): Lost and Gone Forever
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-05-30 10:33:08
My Score:

I'll start by saying my roots run very deep in Appalachian coal country, and not only am I offended by some particular aspects of this album, but also by the entire concept that a group obviously knowing so little about coal mining families and rural Appalachia in general has looked down their noses and attempted to explain our lives to us. How do I know they know so little? Well, first take a look at their album cover. All artistic license aside, pay attention to where the mine is located. See anything wrong? Let's try again--where do you find coal? That's right, in the mountains! Not in a flat crop field like you might find in Lexington where these guys are from! And speaking of mountains, there is more to what keeps us in the coal fields than "Roots and Fear," as their song would suggest. It's true that family and cultural pride hold strong in Appalachia (as I am displaying right now) and that leaving the things we know can cause fear, which can be an anchor. However, for anyone who has been to the mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, or Eastern Kentucky, it is easy to see why a person hailing from these parts might hesitate to leave. The beauty, serenity, and the down-to-earth rich culture of the area are things you won't find just anywhere. A person might choose to spend several of their days in the dark dangers of a coal mine to be able to provide a good living for their family, enjoy Mamaw's cooking after church on Sundays, and take to the woods for some good 4-wheeling, hunting, or just a hike to get away from it all. (But don't mention the hunting part to the lead singer--word has it he and his wife are extreme activist vegans who would allow the deer to overpopulate and die slowly of starvation and in greater numbers due to lack of natural predators, than by allowing the hunters to weed some out quickly with a merciful shot--another reason they are clueless about mountain culture.)

Moving on, let's observe a few other problems with the album that show these guys don't quite "get it." Their song "The Joneses" is all wrong in concept. If you know anyone from coal country, you know they despise all the snobby Joneses and their fancy possessions that make them think they're somebody. There is no struggle to "keep up with the Joneses" here, as the song would suggest. We are salt-of-the-earth people--generally hardworking, honest, and practical in our pursuits. When I watch the Spike TV series "Coal," I see my neighbors and family (and I don't need the subtitles to understand what they're saying). And as for the language on the album, there's another case in point that these guys don't know Appalachia. An example is the song "This is This." What? Yeah, no one around here would use such a pretentious and obscure phrase. And "que sera"? Well, maybe, but it certainly doesn't capture our native dialect. How about listening to some old bluegrass and country music? The language there is very expressive and often clever, but it retains all the wonderful flavor of its roots. Oh, and the token banjo on the album? Really? Can you say "contrivance"?

In summary, if a person is interested in a musical rendition of the struggles (and often-ignored joys!) of coal miners and their families, a more accurate and vivid picture can be found by exploring all the previously mentioned bluegrass and country music out there. If you just can't stand the sound of a country twang, lively banjo, or whining dobro, then perhaps you aren't really interested in our culture at all. The DTES album Lost and Gone Forever is a poorly executed attempt to capture an already done concept. If you like the instrumentation or vocals on the album, great. Just so long as you don't use the lyrics as textbook.




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