When I first listened to this tape on my Walkman, the batteries were dying (unbeknownst to me). Rather than playing in slow motion, however, it chose to just wildly distort everything. The result was that the opening track sounded like an exasperatingly poor recording of the most brilliant live performance ever: like some free jazz wildman like Charles Gayle jumped on stage at an early Sonic Youth gig and proceeded to tear the roof off the place. Once I figured out what had happened, I listened again on my stereo. It no longer sounded live (or like a terrible recording), but the explosive drum improvising, wild sax howling, and mournful bed of droning warped guitar or electrified violins still sounded absolutely amazing. Though I like free jazz quite a bit, it usually wears out its welcome pretty quickly. Dreamcolour, however, manage to keep the piece evolving in an organic and compelling way for its entire duration: the dronier segments are just as cool as the more chaotic sections and do not detract from the momentum at all.
The brief second piece that ends the side is not quite on same level though. While enjoyable, it is little more than a saxophone solo in the midst of a haze of whooshing, echoing, and oscillating effects. It is interesting to see what the band can do on a much smaller scale, but it definitely lacks the staggering power that the entire ensemble can generate.
Thankfully, the second side of the tape is sheer perfection. It initially sounds like it is going to be a another free jazz blow-out, due to the early skwonking sax and skittering drum fills. However, it soon morphs into something far deeper and stranger, as all kinds of droning Eastern instrumentation fades in and the production (possibly by occasional contributor Sean McCann) warps it all into a smeared, constantly shifting hallucinatory haze. The piece remains fascinating and unpredictable for the entire duration of the side, as it seamlessly flows through spacey electronics, echoing sax solos, buried vocal snippets, and alternately squealing, creaking, and mournful strings.
This is one of the most stunning new bands that I’ve heard in a long time. This Oakland collective manages to take all of the best elements from spiritual-minded jazz titans like Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, space rock, and experimental guitar music and weaves them into something wholly their own- I can’t think of too many other bands can be simultaneously described as ecstatic, psychedelic, visceral, and ferocious. While I am saddened that most of their prior releases are long sold-out and that I will probably never get to see them due to the 3000 miles that separate me from California, I am damn glad that this exists. Heartily recommended and thoroughly life-affirming. 9/10 -- Anthony D'Amico (7 April, 2010)