You've gotta give props to a band that sends us a year-old CD with a letter explaining how one (surely fictitious) female listener in Illinois spun The Benzene Ring's Breathing Water in a Dream 18 times and two weeks later was visited by "divine visions of infinite beauty," while a Wisconsin man who didn't hear the album was "struck dead by 'The Starlight Express' as he crossed the intersection on the way to the cemetery." Be assured that this album of 11 lush progressive-/indie-rock songs — Yes and Floyd meet Radiohead and Sunny Day Real Estate, according to that same letter — is not a live-or-die proposition.
It is, however, a compelling combination of short soundscapes ("Shuffling the Deck," "Treasure in the Straw"), creepy chants ("Magical Road") and five-minute-plus epics with titles that are almost just as long ("You and Me in the Absence of Predators," "An Old Man Dies and Finds Himself in Hell"). The latter is an upbeat ditty that belies its strange title with a cinematic chorus and alternately soaring and screeching guitars. "We'll Keep You There" and "Sweet Pioneer" highlight Jeff Aldrich's beautiful vocals, which could have been lifted from some obscure Seventies psychedelic prog-folk record. On the other hand, "How To Be a Girl" indulges The Benzene Ring's indie tendencies.
Breathing Water in a Dream is diverse and fresh enough to pull in listeners from both the prog and indie camps.
1) You and Me in the Absence of Predators
2) An Old Man Dies and Finds Himself in Hell
3) We'll Keep You There
4) Sweet Pioneer
5) Treasure in the Straw
6) Magical Road
7) Shuffling the Deck
8) Help Is On the Way
10) How To Be a Girl
11) Pretend I'm Not Here