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« Lollapalooza 2010 Recap: Sunday, August 8th Note to self: Be More Elastic (this Friday) »

Album Tue Aug 10 2010

Album Review/CD Release Show: Dreamend - So I Ate Myself, Bite By Bite

The concept album is a glorious attempt for a musician to explore the art of storytelling through a timeline and plunge into the depths of characters allowing us to get closer to a story than we could in a single song. Sometimes they are amazing and we connect instantly and sometimes they fail to make sense. Ryan Graveface through his project Dreamend takes us to a strange and scary place that many do not want not to understand. He lets us in to a harrowing world filled with death, joy and disconnection with a new release inspired by the journal of a real life serial killer. The album entitled So I Ate Myself, Bite By Bite is out today on Ryan's label, Graveface Records.

In a time span of 30 years we follow and gain insight to the life and mind of a sociopath, gently haunting as well as guiding us to places within ourselves that we purposely leave in the shadows. When I spoke to Ryan over the phone, the 29 year old was very clear about his new album which from the subject discussed should sound like a dark and stormy night, but instead has elements of sunny fields and being so overjoyed at simply being part of the world you want to hug everything you see.

Past efforts from Dreamend were very guitar rich. This album is different in many contexts. One besides that it is a concept album is that it is also very banjo heavy, a different world from earlier records. Ryan stated "I don't write the songs, they were written on their own. As I'm working I hear melody and then need to work on it. I pretty much had everything but electric guitar". There are still the ethereal characteristics that makes Dreamend one of the best in the shoegaze/psychedelic genre, but the added layers of banjo and peddle steel along side make So I Ate Myself... a unique gem.

The first song is called "Pink Clouds In The Woods", a chime filled epic romp that was based on folk stories, urban legends and some of Ryan's own original stories. The title could lead one to believe that the song has more to do with the struggle and triumphs of overcoming addiction. The songwriter feels the song is very innocent and that titles are very abstract.

"Where we Belong" is the second track and a joyous soul collective one man sing a long that hits you like cold water to the face during a peaceful sleep. What strikes the listener most is the feeling of an almost manic joy this album gives during songs like this one. The happiness continues with the next song, "Magnesium Light" which makes you happy to be alive, ironic considering the subject matter. This song was ideally envisioned to have Nancy Sinatra singing backup, but with an intricate banjo arrangements and a high density melodic factor, the song works as we hear the lyrics "I love the sun" alone.

"Repent" is a standout, a lush beautiful plea to be accepted and understood for who we are. It is a painfully heartbreaking song based on the viewpoint of the character "It was pretty disturbing being written because it was an interesting subject and dark because the killer has no idea what he is doing is wrong." Ryan explained about this song. "It couldn't fit better in the context of this album" He added.

The most confusing song on this album is "Pieces", A fun, ditty that takes black humor to a new place as The Mountain Goats front man John Darnielle is channeled with irony and humor in a song about the worst trait in human behavior. "How I live and how I think is different." The songwriter explains "Everyone has felt hate and incredible joy at the same time. As far as translating it to everyday life, perhaps I'm not all there. I think most listen to that song now and think it is kitschy and cute, but I wasn't thinking when I wrote it, but it was difficult to translate what the journal was saying.

The album is very much one that needs time and repeated listening to fully appreciate, like many concept albums. Unlike some however, the album requires little commitment to the story as a whole. Once can start at any place without fear of missing what comes next or songs that they didn't hear as the songs are abstract enough to hold up on their own, but start to connect with time.The album ends in with a crazy multi-directional 10 minute piece called "An Admission" that borders on psychotic only to be brought back to a mildly sane place in a slow banjo riff.

To make the Dreamend experience even more rich, the LP version is also a phenakistoscope, an old fashioned viewfinder.

We are all on journeys in our lives, some are flavored with more or less pain, fear and joy than others. So I Ate Myself Bite By Bite shows us all these elements, from the most morbid to the overwhelming complexity of happiness and its eventual departure.

You can experience this story live when Dreamend plays a record release show at the Subterranean this Friday. Also playing are Mako Sica, Carbon Tigers and An Aesthetic Anaesthetic. The show is $10 and is all ages. Door at open at 6 for an early show. The Subterranean is located at 2011 W. North Ave. (773) 278-6600

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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