Special post; "Dreamcatcher - Poolsides" & "෴ - Lichen EP"

Band / Artist: Dreamcatcher
Year: 2012
Genre: IDM, Chillstep, Chillout

My Review:
This was a pleasant surprise, and something a little out of the ordinary. I got an email around crimmastime from a musician asking for a little more than the average share. Namely this line stood out from his message.
"It would mean a lot to me if you could make a review of it so I would get some information about what I should do better next time."
He asked for it. So here is his soundcloud page.


And here's the link to Lichen, where I'll be reviewing Poolsides more than anything.


Jumbly Music: the Lichen EP, is that something you're very involved in? Also, how the fuck are you supposed to pronounce that symbol? Mustache? Squiggle? Fuzzy Caterpillar?

Simon Aleksič: So yeah, with the Lichen EP, me and my friend both made three songs each so in the first place, there were six tracks on it, but one of my songs had to be removed because of a sample issue. So actually, the second and the fourth tracks are mine from that thing. We don't really make music together any more because my friend is now more into metro-ko or whatever that new thing is and that's not my thing. It is pronounced Lichen.

Jumbly: Metro-ko... I have absolutely no idea what that is. Sounds like google time for me. How long have you been making music for?
Simon: I've been making music for two years.
Jumbly: How did you get into it? Did you start out in a different genre?

I started just to try out something new but it grew on me. I was practicing breakdance when I was younger (though I didn't stop dancing, I just don't have as much time) and that was the thing that helped me express my feelings. Since I am making music, this is how I express my emotions.

Can you play any other instruments?

Simon: I am self-learning guitar playing at the moment and I can play piano (my mother taught me when I was younger) but I'm very clumsy at it, I can read notes and all but it takes a long time for me to figure out which key I have to press, I never actually felt interested into physical instruments although this sounds weird.

Not too weird to me, when its in the right setting. What way would you like your music to be enjoyed?

Simon: I would really like my music to be enjoyed as background music or as music for relaxation, to take it easy, to listen to it on a sunny day with no worries.

How would you describe your music in your own words?

Simon: 2 oz. Downtempo,2 oz. Tropical beats, 1 oz. Keys, A slice of phased and pitch shifted vocals,
On the glitches, shaken, served in a highball glass.

Jumbly: Lol. What kind of software and hardware are you using?

Simon: I'm using Ableton and numerous VSTs but mostly the Tyrell N6 and the dBlue Glitch.

Jumbly: Would you like to make songs meant to fit into albums, or would you rather have songs meant to be released separately (like how soundcloud kind of is.)?

Simon: I'd rather have my songs fit into albums because when I decide I will start working for something new, I usually create a picture of what I would like to show with my music first. With my first EP, I imagined that it should represent the feelings of summer (I am a total summer guy, I don't like winters) and it's the same with the new thing I'm working on. I want to make it sound as if someone would take the sounds of the African savanna, Brazilian cities and add sounds of reverb-full strings, making it a bit more ambiental. So expect a lot of different sounds mixed together into a new thing that sounds connected even though at first it might not sound like it could be.

Jumbly: What kinds of music most inspire you?

Simon: Ambiental, downtempo and the oldschool breakbeat (not the new 4000 bpm hardcore) music but from time to time, even a rock track can inspire me to try out a new thing and see how it goes.

Jumbly: Have you perused the blog much? Any favorite posts? Any suggestions for it?

Simon: Yes, I have been on your blog a few times and it seems very nice to me. I like the structure of your reviews and I really like that you even make interviews. Just keep doing what you do.

Jumbly: any other bands or blogs you'd suggest?

Simon: An artist I would suggest is Subdaio (http://subdaio.bandcamp.com/). He really can create a nice atmosphere and he has a bit more sounds on his soundcloud. I sadly don't know any other good independent music blogs ...

Jumbly: I'm gonna have to check them out soon.

So, last thing.. do you want a serious critique? Would you like it public or private? I went to art school and spent a year doing sound design, so I can give a pretty emotionally detached teardown of the whole thing if you'd like. I just wasn't sure if you wanted a real review of its strengths and weaknesses, or just wanted me to do a post of your work and were being polite.

Simon: I want a serious critique because only that will help me get better. If you wish, you can make it public, I wouldn't have any problems with that.

Alright, Now onto the review. It is not short.

I'll preface this by saying that this sounds harsh in some ways, but the album isn't bad. I'm personally keeping it, although I'm really looking forward to hearing the next one that comes out.


My biggest problem here is that I was trying so hard to take the contexts of what you were saying about your sound and how you'd like it to be experienced, that I almost ruined it for myself. Seeing as the music is all digital, I was really trying to dissect it and get at exactly where it stands in the world of electronic music, and some of the best places for it to go. I'll just break it down very briefly and then go from there.

Rain - your use of pads and overarching emotional notes are pretty grand, though it does feel a little weird that this song clocks in at over 8 minutes when the rest of the album cant even hit half that length. It played for long enough that it made the rest of the album seem like it skipped by afterward, and dragged too long out of the gate, which is usually best reserved for those sorts of tracks that really grab ahold of your attention. I like the drums looping overall, but they need to be lightened and strengthened in places as opposed to just being the same straight through.

Pleiades Pattern
- the voice samples are a good idea, but I feel like you fumbled it this time. They take away from the lighter tone of the song in some ways, and the drums are either on, or off, which seems a little bit of a shame, because if you were to play with some modulation switches you'd be able to vary its sound and softness a little more throughout the track instead of feeling caustic against the other sounds.

Highway - works as a good intermission. Good use of the drums and all in this track, just a simple 2 beat works well, and the vocal bits fit really nicely along this one. If this were a longer album, it would fit in place better.

A Novel for Printers in 5/8 - this might have been the perfect track to swap with rain as far as placement on the album. That set of keys starting at 45 seconds is a nice set. I cant tell if the minimalism with the beat was meant to be so repetitive. It feels like an accident that you made work out in your favor by layering for a while, but it still starts to get a little grating with some layers toward the 2:20s area, and i didn't really know what to think of the vocal sample used, it worked alright.
Easyboard - the Microhouse sound you have going on here, could do you favors as a nice additive layer or percussion replacement in the future. It works a lot better in some ways than the drum tracks for most of the rest of this album. This and the track after it are the strongest on the album to me.
Pleiades Pattern Reprise - good usage of the slow fade-in and the reverb usage on the beginning drums. The vocal sample here is the strongest in the album.It still leaves something to be missed, but I think that a chillout second half to this, and a softer fade-in on track one would make it balance on the replay.
Now, as a whole I'd say this is a fairly promising freshman album. It has its flaws, but none bad enough that it stopped the album from being enjoyable. The biggest thing is needing a more fluid album next time through. Try not to have any songs more than twice the length of all other tracks on the album, even if that just means making a longer wind down on the end, or unless that song needs to be that way for the sake of what you're making. Another thing I would say is that if you want a good mid-ground between the headspace albums and the soft background albums, use processed samples like field recordings, droney bits, recordings of you and your friends just humming tunes, birds chirping.. whatever you can find or record and hammer to pieces until you love it. Then it's yours, and you're sharing a piece of you and your life in your art.

Some styles you should look to for some possible inspiration would be:
Microhouse or Deep techno, for its lightness and super compressed and quirky percussives.

Minimal trance, its really pleasant for the stripped down sound, similar to what you seem like you're approaching in your work here.

Dub techno, same thing, but more tied to the reverb and echo effects. More of this for some tracks maybe? Good for building out as a soundscape.

Hyperdub, 2-step, UK garage, It can be a good way to approach some of the more simple 2 or 3 hit beat sets you were playing around with. Burial is a good one to listen to some. But you really could go all the way back to the initial “Dub House” era for ideas of where to consider going.

Glitch and IDM, because sometimes nothing is more relaxing than a light layer of weird with your track layouts. You can experiment in all kinds of ways, and really make some interesting things happen.
Krautrock & Spacerock, you want to keep the percussion louder, but make something magical? Just remember “tomorrow never knows” by the beatles, and all the rest of this genre. Why not just sample the shit out of some rock and acoustic songs and chop it up to make a rhythm that you can love, just layer things so your electronic pieces compliment the percussion, and you're set for something really promising. Just imagine what you could do with some Dreampop or Shoegaze tracks.
Abstract hiphop, You want relaxing backgrounds that are lively or have flavor? This shit is the way to go when you want a little funk to rise up on your album. Dj food, Bonobo, it just has the perfect swank, like a film score for your hot stoned sex life.

Ambient Techno & Ambient House, You can make this stuff go for SO LONG and it can just WORK. If i were on a beach and drinking a beer and relaxing, I'd listen to a lot of this stuff. Also it lends itself toward the last one..

Ambient psy (Psytrance on valium), Now personally, if you were gonna take one piece of my advice over all else, I would tell you to really immerse yourself in this stuff, in getting how it works, and making your own play on some of it just to see where it could take you. This style of music floats up out of the Psytrance and Goa movement every once in a while, and it makes for some of the most comfortable and groovy tracks to me. An important thing that it has going for it, is that psytrance is so much about the builds and releases, only so they can rebuild again, which would be a great strength to build up on your return album.
Its pretty much a lost era of the music world too, so you can make it your own thing fairly easily. 

I hope that helps you out, but in case, Anyone listening to this, please feel free to post a review in the comments.