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Goldbug: The Seven Dreams

I have to admit that prior to receiving this exhilarating new project Goldbug, I was unfamiliar with the talents of Philadelphia based musician / composer Tim Motzer. Turns out that in addition to not only being an internationally known player who has recorded with the likes of David Sylvian and Jaki Liebezeit (Can) to name just a few, he is also an accomplished producer who has been running his own record label 1K Recordings for the past ten years as well.

Along with Motzer who handles guitars, keys, piano & laptop, Goldbug's debut album The Seven Dreams features a killer lineup of supremely talented musicians. First up we have Tim's longtime Base3 collaborator Barry Meehan on bass. Manning the drums Tim enlisted another Philly area native in Eric Slick who has been gigging with Adrian Belew's power trio for the past couple of years, and last but certainly not least The Seven Dreams is also graced by the presence of British sax & flute player Theo Travis.

The majority of the music on The Seven Dreams was basically cut live over the course of a couple of improvised sessions, with only a few compositions later being subjected to Motzer's sonic reconstructions. After the brief electronic tinged opening number "Shadow Memory" things kick into high gear immediately on "The Departure" as the downright funky rhythmic patterns and deep, meaty grooves laid down by Slick and Meehan take center stage, while Motzer applies thick layers of jazzy, textured guitar that at times sounds otherworldly. Next up is "Unraveling" which is one of the above mentioned reconstructed tracks. Highlighted by Tim's spacey analog synth splashes and Eric's cut-up, off kilter percussion work, this two minute composition segues seamlessly into the eleven minute tour de-force "Scratching The Third Eye". Much like "The Departure" this multi-faceted track is once again anchored brilliantly by the dizzying amount of tempo changes executed by both Slick and Meehan. The intensity gradually builds and builds as Motzer unleashes a plethora of sweeping electronic textures and fluid guitar runs overtop the repetitive piano melody lying just beneath the surface.

As if the majestic beauty of these first four tracks wasn't enough to satiate the listener, the superb melodies and sublime playing are enhanced even further with Theo Travis' contributions which come on the final three tracks of the disc. "Elevation" is the first track to benefit from Theo's deeply moving kaleidoscope of colors as he rips off a sizzling, extended sax solo over the course of the first half of the song before the backwards piano splashes and what appears to be the sound of a bubbling brook conclude the piece. The second extended composition "The Past Is Still Present" once again reveals Motzer's propensity for utilizing various different guitar textures and electronic treatments to create a wealth of dreamlike atmospherics. Sick's initial tribal beats give way to a distinctly more jazz based foundation before Theo finally enters the picture to close the track out with another one of his trademark ripping tenor solos. The smoke has barely cleared before the listener is quickly engaged in the final composition "Persistence Of A Memory". This is a truly sublime and subdued track, only this time it's highlighted not by a sax solo but by Travis' delicate flute work.

The rich, thought provoking, dreamy atmospherics employed throughout, along with the absolutely superlative performances turned in by each individual musician definitely makes The Seven Dreams a one of a kind listening experience from beginning to end, and one that I'm sure will remain etched in your brain long after the music has ended.

Track Listing
1) Shadow Memory
2) The Departure
3) Unraveling
4) Scratching The Third Eye
5) Elevation
6) The Past Is Still Present
7) Persistence Of A Memory

Added: November 9th 2010
Reviewer: Ryan Sparks
Related Link: 1K Recordings
Hits: 2299
Language: english

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Goldbug: The Seven Dreams
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-11-09 14:34:06
My Score:

Goldbug is the second act featuring Tim Motzer that I have reviewed in the past couple of days and while I enjoyed his Descending album with Markus Reuter, I have to say that this excellent effort from the band Goldbug is by far my favourite of the two. While Descending was a sparsely dark affair with some excellent musicianship working over an ambient backing, The Seven Dreams takes the drama and adds a greater element of instrumentation to proceedings. Helping build the intricate layers of sounds and (often challenging) melody are Barry Meehan on bass, Eric Slick on drums and Theo Travis who adds a huge amount of atmosphere with his sax and flute contributions.

As seems to be Motzer's signature, Goldbug are more interested in creating densely arranged and darkly themed passages that rely on the listener really tuning in to the music to understand what is being created, but while Descending is an extremely sparse affair in terms of instrumentation taking the spot light, The Seven Dreams becomes a far more enigmatic experience through allowing it's component parts to emerge into the light and sometimes in almost glorious isolation. Slick's drums and the sprawling bass laid down by Meehan make for a tremendously jazzy groove on first song proper "The Departure", while it is Travis who makes his mark on "Elevation" with his harsh, inspiring sax work.

Taken as individual songs The Seven Dreams does struggle slightly to make its mark, however as one continuous piece of music it becomes a really engrossing album that continues to improve as every subsequent listen reveals another layer of intricate sounds. I had never actually stumbled across the music of Tim Motzer before and on the strength of the two albums I have had the pleasure of listening to, I have really been missing out.

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