June 7, 2007

Slanted Spotlight: dredg

A while back, if you remember, Joyful Girl started a segment entitled "Slanted Spotlight". Its purpose was to highlight bands that you may not know of, and her maiden voyage was with the band Winterpills. The band I bring before you is slightly less slanted, and in a completely different style, but one I feel deserves a spotlight. Without further ado, dredg.
image from dredgonline.

According to dredgonline, as their official site does not provide a biography, dredg have existed since 1993, kicking around in high school and self-publishing. From this came two EPs, "Orph" and "Conscious". Strangely enough, their big break came on 9/11 - the 9/11, not just any September 11 - with "Leitmotif" (a very fitting name for this, their breakthrough album, as leitmotif means "a motif or theme associated throughout a music drama with a particular person, situation, or idea" (Dictionary.com)). While fitting in with the natural progression of Dredg's sound, "Leitmotif" is a rawer and harder sound than their two more polished and frankly better later albums, "El Cielo" (2002) and "Catch Without Arms" (2005), each featuring an underlying concept and theme. A fourth album is on its way.

Fellow AtD correspondent Coz introduced me to dredg with the song "Bug Eyes" off "Catch Without Arms," a deceptively pretty song encased in a mid-to-fast tempo and driving beginning. There are few artists which I immediately feel the need to research after hearing one song, and dredg was one of them.

At first, I was slightly disheartened, having only come across "Leitmotif"-era work such as "Penguins In The Desert" (penguins are a recurring image for dredg, with the "Of The Room" video focused on a penguin, and the bridge for "Triangle" being "We live like penguins in the desert/why can't we live like tribes" in an almost Gregorian repetition). Coz prodded me not to give up on dredg, so I researched the latest two releases and ended up buying both of them, playing each one on repetition for weeks on end.

"El Cielo" is more fine-tuned and many parts are instrumental. Their "Brushstrokes" add an almost theatrical note to the album, as if they were a score to the dialogue presented in the songs. The album itself is a meditation on waking and dreaming states, including samples to drive its point home, such as in "Whoa Is Me" ("inspired by the clarity of consciousness, rather than the vividness of dreams"). Many of these samples are taken from sufferers of sleep disorders, the letters of whom can be found in the liner notes.

"Catch Without Arms" goes from very emotional ("Matroshka" - one of the most beautiful songs I've heard from the current decade) to very slick (the "Zebraskin" riff crawls under your skin), and speeds up just enough (the opening "Ode To The Sun" has - at risk of sounding cliche - an infectious drive that gets into you, and it comes back with "This Tanbark Is Hot Lava" and "Hungover On A Tuesday"). Basically, there's something for everyone, from the most pretentious artist ("Scissor Lock," most of the instrumentals), to the sap ("Matroshka," "Planting Seeds"), to the hard rocker. Download a few songs to whet your whistle, and see if you want the albums. I'll bet once you start digging deep, you'll at least be tempted.

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