$.99 Dreams are renowned in some circles for their live shows, their ability to jam, creating a diverse range of sounds, and their records share that aesthetic, sounding live, most of their early work assembled with live overdubs. This approach certainly does hint at something exciting, a certain musicality that can be lacking in some contemporary music, with too much studio trickery being bought to the fore.
Spei Res is $.99 Dreams new album, and it hasn’t been too long since the last. When sent the last album I was advised of their change in direction, and there will be more things on the way, I had no idea it would be so soon! This makes me nothing but happy, I have been seduced by the $.99 Dreams sound, if you can categorize them, and they were wise to advise “this one is different from previous releases”. No need to hesitate though, if you loved previous releases by $.99 Dreams, you will not be disappointed, even if you are taken to unfamiliar territory. While Three Songs For Another Time took us on a long journey in three parts, Spei Res drags their sound back to short bursts, ideas, sketches, and a playfulness and experimentation I have grown to love. “Machinator” kicks things off with some sharp jazz drumming, subtle percussion, and a tonal blanket that seems to suck everything in to cascading sharp drum breaks and rolls. “Servitutem” keeps that drum and percussion palette, adding slowly morphing electronics to the mix, dissolving into some post-Dilla beats. “Supergredi” turns up the tone generators and the oscillators to maximum, giving us something we have heard before, mutant electronics underpinned with sharp dirty drums. “Intercise” stays with the dirty drumming to great effect, again allowing the washes of tonal electronics to carry the melody. “Disparitas” comes over sounding like an unheard Gaslamp Killer interlude, but no samples here, this is pure musicians at play, while “Iuba Talpa” has infectious funk bass line and warped afro rhythms. “Spes” seems so disjointed, the rhythm not quite right, but those drums eventually pull in the electronics to lock in a rhythm before everything dissolves again like a confusing scene from Twin Peaks, hinting towards a more straight up Joker take on the purple wow sound. “Fiducia” continues with this synth sound, juxtaposing crisp electronics with a slightly off kilter melody. “Lacus Exitium” lays down sweeping synth pads with laid back beats, sounding fresh out of a modern giallo soundtrack. The longest track “Coegi” plods along with changing beats throughout, infectious bells, reducing to a sparkling wash of electronic waves. “Quod Damnum” ends the album with celestial psychedelics reminiscent of Brainticket circa 1974, bringing the listener down softly, but leaving them wanting to hear more.
No lack of creativity here, just fresh ideas and great musicianship, these guys really know how to push the envelope, and in turn have challenged themselves to release music that doesn’t conform or copy, marking its influences, but taking things in a totally new direction. If I sound like a broken record when I say this needs to be heard, and $.99 Dreams deserve a wider audience, so be it. Sometimes people need to be told more than once. Another great release from $.99 Dreams, in digital format, which I’m sure is helping them get this material out as quickly as possible. That is fine with me, because I really want to hear whats next, although some promised 7″ vinyl releases in the future will satisfy my need for their sound and my addiction to those black round things.
Listen/buy here. These guys have absorbed 70’s psychedelia, early electronic library music and jazz, but have taken just a hint from more contemporary artists like Autechre and J. Dilla, this comes with my highest recommendation.