After first exposure to Dark Sea Dream’s visceral sonic assault in a live setting, the initial reaction one might have is of physical paralysis and the frightening notion that the Virginia quartet’s raison d’être is to simply bludgeon the life out of a room, one eardrum at a time. However, once these volume-driven emanations are accepted and realized, they are justified by an overwhelming feeling of vibrancy and color that can only be experienced by complete envelopment of sound. In this regard, the band certainly takes its cues from British shoe-gaze legends My Bloody Valentine and Japanese psych enigmas Les Rallizes Denudes.
“My Bloody Valentine’s approach to sound in particular is an inspiration to us,” says drummer and co-founder, Kifah Foutah. “The rigorous devotion to the sound quality, and their ability to create a large, but detailed sonic range is something that we strive for.”
Fortunately, Dark Sea Dream, which formed in the fall of 2006, shapes their sound from myriad inspirations, elevating them far beyond one-trick-pony status. Most notable is their commitment to crafting a cinematic minds-cape, akin to how Krautrockers Popul Vuh illuminated many of Werner Herzog’s films or how Ennio Morricone successfully translated a scene’s mood with a simple theme.
Foutah, whose thunderous and pummeling percussion previously propelled short-lived VA sludge-doom band VOG, admits, “One thing we value in our music is a sense of mood and atmosphere. That’s definitely a priority.” Electric guitarist and co-founder Alex Rizzo’s heavily amplified stringwork reflects this well, ranging from hazy, fuzzy washes of drone to strangely concocted, yet utterly memorable and somehow logical bursts of riffage. Fleshing out the sound with astute sympathy are Mike Micale's guitaring, which provides stellar counterpoint to Rizzo's, and Brian Dooley's rock-solid bass work, which importantly grounds the band from its usual soaring frequencies. Although Dark Sea Dream’s compositions take you on an inner quest, it is a journey informed by physicality, like a dream that fools you due to its alarming reality.
On Dark Sea Dream, the group’s full-length debut on Prophase Records, the sprawling epic approach of post-punk and avant-metal pioneers Savage Republic and Neurosis undoubtedly set a precedent for Dark Sea Dream’s explorations. Though recent recordings have shown the band wisely and tastefully incorporating new and unpredictable elements into their brain-rattling textures. While always extant, the shimmering, spacy melodicism of early Pink Floyd and the rambling,balls-to-the-wall conviction of Neil Young & Crazy Horse has become more apparent, colliding with the frazzled psychedelic skronk of Japanese freaks like White Heaven, Mainliner and Flower Travelin’ Band. Throw in a healthy brown-acid dose of Glenn Branca and Sonic
Youth, and you’re getting close to the scalding core of this already strongly realized band.
No matter how far they travel into the outer realms of this universe, one thing you can be sure of when listening to Dark Sea Dream is that it’s not going to be a passive, banal experience. Foutah poignantly states, "Our aim is to make a physical, active sound. One that can affect your body and psyche. Whatever emotions this brings about is irrelevant. We want everyone to have their own unique experience with it, whether it be positive or negative."
Despite a quite auspicious debut, Dark Sea Dream plans to avoid musical stasis by fervently forging into unfamiliar auditory territory.
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