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Miller, Rick: Dark Dreams

Rick Miller is a very talented Canadian musician who has released nine studio albums, his latest being Dark Dreams. I first heard Miller in 2009 and his Falling Through Rainbows album which I thought was very good. Unfortunately I missed his last album In The Shadows and judging how good his latest is I will definitely have to pick it up. Milller (vocals, various instruments) is backed by some fine musicians including Barry Haggarty (guitars), Kane Miller (guitars, violin), Mateusz Swoboda (cello), Nancy Foote (flute) and Will (drums, percussion).

If you are familiar with Miller's work you probably know what to expect. His music is quite mellow with meticulous guitar, softly lingering pastoral synths and keys and an overall peaceful vibe. If I was to compare his music to anyone it would have to be David Gilmour. Miller's guitar playing has the precision and feel of Gilmour and his laid back vocal delivery bears some resemblance as well. His notes flow beautifully and just like Gilmour Miller is able to squeeze every ounce of passion out of the instrument.

This is not music that jumps out at you but is rather on the subtle side of progressive rock. There is a course of sweet melancholy running through these tracks but I would never call this music this music depressing or darkly forboding.

The album begins with the mellow "Return To Uqbar" with its dreamy ambient beginning, almost having a spiritual quality, before Miller's Gilmouresque guitar enters the fold. His notes are pure and precise as they are throughout the album. The multi-part "Angels In the Forest" is another peaceful track where Miller's laid back singing style is a perfect match for his subdued musical approach. "When the Evening Comes" could have been from Gilmour's On An Island. Even Miller's lead vocals recall Gilmour's rich tone. On "Whispers" Miller mixes ambient moments with more of his crystalline lead work making for another excellent track.

Dark Dreams is a superb album and probably my favourite from Miller thus far. If you dig mellow sounding prog with excellent guitar, vocals and melodies, Dark Dreams is a must purchase. Highly recommended!

Track Listing:
1. Return To Uqbar (6:19)
2. Angels In the Forest (8:18)
3. When the Evening Comes (3:03)
4. Whispers (5:24)
5. The Transcension (2:24)
6. Quiet Desperation (7:12)
7. Hear the Ocean Roar (3:28)
8. Man Out Of Time (5:19)
9. The One (Reincarnate) (4:20)

Added: December 20th 2012
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 2878
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Miller, Rick: Dark Dreams
Posted by Jordan Blum, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-12-20 13:54:12
My Score:

Inspired by the works of progressive rock pioneers like The Moody Blues, Genesis, and Pink Floyd, Canadian composer Rick Miller's DIY approach is charming, warm, and earthly. On his newest release, Dark Dreams, he conjures up several more pieces that never fail to soothe, intrigue, and transport the listener to faraway landscapes. There's a mystical quality to most of the content, and in a way it feels like a perfect synthesis of the two musical directions of Mike Oldfield (his earlier instrumental voyages and his later commercial songwriting).

Opener "Return to Uqbar" begins with flutes, chimes, and gongs, giving it ancient tribal feel. These elements permeate throughout as Miller's voice (which is eerily similar to that of David Gilmour's) provides a calm melody and optimistic lyrics. His harmonies are strong yet humble, and there is a definite resemblance to some of Steve Hackett's solo work. The guitar solo near the end is powerful, too. "Angels in the Forest" is a slower, more somber and spiritual affair; really, it feels like a mantra for accepting the afterlife. The orchestration is especially poignant, and the naturalistic sound effects give the track an added sense of organic weight.

"When the Evening Comes" is a simpler and shorter piece built around acoustic guitar arpeggios, while "Quiet Desperation" mixes wonderfully straightforward songwriting and experimental production, which allows it to sound both accessible and quite unique. Album closer "The One (Reincarnate)" begins with foreboding timbres before melting into another pleasant acoustic guitar arpeggio. It's met by a duet between an angelic female voice and a devilish male one. Near the end of the track, Miller joins in, making this the most vocally dense track on the album. It's an appropriately ominous conclusion to an album that's so dense with introspection and otherworldly searching.

Dark Dreams can feel a bit monotonous by the end, but there's no denying the creativity behind it. Miller's vision, while clearly derived from specific inspirations, is clear and distinct enough to make him a significant artist; the way he weaves pleasing melodies into complex yet wholly encompassing instrumentation is masterful, and the DIY feel (which isn't to imply that this record sounds amateurish at all) is equally alluring. All in all, this is a very enjoyable work.

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