Dream The Electric Sleep: "Peter Gabriel is a part of my life."
With a big-name producer on board and an enthralling third album under their belts, prog fans worldwide are finally waking up to the sublime soundscapes of Dream The Electric Sleep.
One of the biggest myths about prog rock is that it’s about playing as many notes as possible. Dream The Electric Sleep understand this annoyingly persistent notion and have spent the better part of a decade engaged in a quest to remind us that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Their newly released third album, Beneath The Dark Wide Sky, is a triumph of the less-is‑more theory, relying on tones, textures and soundscapes to create an impact. And yet it’s a melodic and cerebral record. The fact that large chunks are instrumental makes it more impressive still: when the band do use words in their songs, they always make them count.
“That the album is sparse is a good observation,” smiles frontman/guitarist Matt Page, talking to Prog via Skype from his home in Lexington, Kentucky. “As an artist, the biggest challenge is keeping people invested in your work, so gaps and spaces are a way of maintaining that interest. Our music can be listened to purely as entertainment, but should you wish to, there are other layers that can be peeled away. The album art, the lyrics, the music – they’re all part of a web.”
The trio are understandably proud to have worked with Nick Raskulinecz – the Grammy-winning producer of such giants as Rush, Mastodon, Ghost, Coheed And Cambria and the Foo Fighters – on their newest baby, maintaining that his outside influence helped them focus on making the best music of their career. And yet even musicologist Raskulinecz was left stumped in trying to describe what they do.
We saw ourselves as coming from the tradition of Led Zeppelin or any of those bands from the 1970s that were interested in writing great, challenging music.
“We were in the studio and Nick took a call from somebody who enquired about which genre we were a part of and none of us knew how to respond,” Page laughs. “Eventually somebody piped up with, ‘Er… we’re progressive rock… I think!’”
However, from the outset, Dream The Electric Sleep never sought to be – quote, unquote – progressive.
“We saw ourselves as coming from the tradition of Led Zeppelin or any of those bands from the 1970s that were interested in writing great, challenging music,” Page explains. “However, I won’t lie – it was an incredible honour to have been nominated in the Limelight category at last year’s Progressive Music Awards. We didn’t win, but it was cool it happened and it made us realise we must be doing something that resonates with that community.
“What’s beautiful about being part of the prog movement is that the listeners seek engagement,” he continues. “I think of music as a cake, and so many [conventional] followers want the icing alone. What they crave is that sugar rush right into the bloodstream, but prog is all about the entire cake… it’s not good without the cake.”