by Candi Brammer, Ambient Musings
FEVER DREAMS, the first installment in a planned FEVER DREAMS trilogy, is a return to Steve Roach's signature tribal-ambient sound from the notably more spacious and expansive soundworlds of last year's MYSTIC CHORDS & SACRED SPACES and TEXTURE MAPS releases. This lengthy, seamlessly bridged four-track album is distinguished by its thicker earthy timbres and electro-organic textures. Patrick O'Hearn lends rhythmic bass guitar to this album along with Byron Metcalf on percussion.
The album opens with "Wicked Dream" as simmering low chords are joined by shakers and swooping percussion. Towards the latter part of the track discordant tones hover about, lending an eerie touch. Next is my favorite of the four -- the faster-paced "Fever Pulse," which is driven by a thermal tempo and stormy tonal-strands (CORE and ON THIS PLANET both come to mind). The minimal techno-tribal drumming on this piece actually reminds me of a kettle of water boiling on the stove. The pace is slowed a bit for the third track, "Tantra Mantra", where the drumming becomes more spatial and echoed. This is the longest piece on the album clocking in at just under half an hour. Things slowly begin to dissipate on the closing "Moved Beyond", before the percussion gradually fades into murky oblivion.
FEVER DREAMS is a superb effort from a first-rate sound sculpturer with the help of two very fine musicians. Although the album remains rather low-key in spite of its prominent tribal drumming, it's thoroughly fun to hear -- especially with headphones. It elicits the experience of venturing through a shrouded jungle while evoking a certain sense of equivocal danger. The sonic temperatures remain elevated throughout -- whether lowly simmering or coming to a rapid boil. This is a recommended first chapter in a saga that is to be continued!