Sorrow - Dreamstone | Album Review | By Volume

I'm here to tell you love ain't some fucking blood on the receiver. Love is speaking in code. It's an inside joke. Love is coming home. The Format - If Work Permits



Bass deeper than hell, blissfully ascending into the clouds.

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Author: on June 19, 2013
May 13, 2013

One minor issue I have with a large amount of modern electronic music is that it tends to work infinitely better as short-players and singles. This observation is far from an exact science, of course – Clubroot and Swarms exist, after all – but it is a noticeable trend within the vast world of electronica. Certain producers have decade-long careers, and never release an LP, opting instead to offer their tunes in short, punchy works. Part of the reason behind this simply has to do with the nature of dance music and its community. It is a common occurrence for a producer to change styles several times a year, dabbling in various genres and branching out into unexplored territory regularly. Fans of dance music are also famously fickle and anxious for constant change; releasing the same sounds over and over is bound to bore the majority of critically-thinking followers. The EP format works well in these situations because it allows producers to act as musical chameleons and avoid becoming boxed into one particular style, releasing several times a year with a different motif for each album. The flipside to this is that a consistently interesting LP from these sorts of artists is extremely rare. They often run the risk of sounding stagnant when trying to hammer down a particular sound over a period of forty-five minutes or more, and it is quite a skill to be able to walk the right side of the fine line between creating a cohesive piece of music and producing a bland snooze-fest of twelve tracks that sound way too similar to each other.

Thankfully, a producer from Birmingham by the name of Sorrow has avoided these pitfalls with his debut full-length. After releasing a handful of EPs over the past few years, each gaining respectable amounts of praise among the underground community, he has successfully identified and cemented his unique style with Dreamstone. Though a signature sound is definitely present – some sort of unifying strain running through each track – the amount of variety and dynamism on display is astonishing. It works exceedingly well as a complex but cohesive piece, perfectly marrying many different styles into one glorious work of art. As a whole, it is absolutely bursting with mesmerizing atmosphere: lush synths paint a colourful backdrop upon which powerful bass tones and soaring strings command attentive listening. Certain moments are shockingly gorgeous, taking the listener by surprise with pure cathartic beauty, while others are bonafide booty-shakers, bound to destroy any dancefloor in the world. The album in general gives off a vibe that is haunting and dreamy, even when it ventures towards the more aggressive end of its musical spectrum.

In terms of genres, the album is hard to pinpoint as a complete work, but it would be accurate to say that it seems to further blur the lines between the related styles of dubstep and garage. The main thing that makes this record so remarkably interesting is the way in which it varies the elements of its sound on each track so that a different piece of the mix takes centre-stage every time. It opens with the laid-back 2-step vibes of “Elixer” which focuses heavily on the percussion, the handclap snares and syncopated drums hogging most of the spotlight. The next song, “Moodswing”, is exactly that: a subtle change in musical tone, but with the same set of essential elements. This is the track in which Dreamstone begins to truly find itself, offering some powerful bass grooves over hazy, indecipherable vocals and some expertly timed filter. The subtle changes keep coming, the next two songs homing on the dreamy guest vocals of CoMa and building layers of soothing tones on top of one another, working towards a climax of enchanting sound. Some of my personal favourite moments come when Sorrow employs majestic strings to break from the familiar modes of dance music and elevate the atmosphere even further. A track like “Embrace” is bound to make listeners take notice with its breathtaking violin interludes sprinkled amongst the subdued beats and ethereal background vocals, and it really shows that he is not afraid to use whichever instrumentation necessary to achieve his desired sound.

As Dreamstone comes to a close, it’s fittingly with a bang and not a whimper. Closing track “Intruder” does its title justice by smacking the listener with the most aggressive bass of the entire LP. It is a commanding track overflowing with heavy-hitting percussion and bass lines more menacing than Sorrow has been known to produce. In a way, it feels like a conscious statement made by the artist: one final example of his competence in a number of distinct styles. Dreamstone displays the many talents of a musician who is comfortable to fill a complete spectrum of tonality, defining a specific purpose but not necessarily settling into one precise mood. His sub-bass may come from the deepest depths of hell, but the beauty of Sorrow’s style is how he uses it to ascend into the clouds and create pure sonic bliss. Sorrow’s first attempt at a full-length album has resulted in an absolutely breathtaking and gorgeous piece of bass music, and its dynamic structure is refreshing and engaging. It is a commanding piece of art that acts as a statement of skill and intent for one of England’s rising stars.

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