The Dream Collective
Machines of Love and War
The fourth album from The Dreaming (Dream Collective), an acoustic progressive band from Buffalo, NY entitled Machines of Love and War is scheduled for release next month. Fronted by Leah Pinnavaia (lead vocals, harmonies, keyboards) and Ann Janish-Schieder (lead vocals, harmonies), The Dreaming lineup is completed by Daniel Haskin (guitars and keyboards), John Caruso (bass) and Pat O’Connell (drums and percussion). Violin and viola parts on Machines of Love and War are contributed by 10,000 Manics’ Mary Ramsey. Piano was contributed by Joe Rozler. Additional guitars are by Ray Lorigo, with Andy Cushing on mandolin. The album was produced by Armand Petri (10,000 Maniacs, Six Pence None the Richer, Goo Goo Dolls). Armand also contributed percussion, keyboards and mini moog.
The Dreaming’s writing team are long time fans of the ‘art rock’ band Renaissance fronted by Annie Haslam through the 1970s and 1980s. While The Dreaming’s sound, especially on the new album, is far more acoustic, their music will certainly appeal to Renaissance fans worldwide. The band enjoy a warm following in the Buffalo, NY area when they perform on stage.
This new studio project does the artists proud with excellent quality throughout. The extensive violin and viola parts contributed by Mary Ramsey from 10,000 Maniacs add great texture and further distinguish the band’s sound. Fans of Cosmic Stepping Stones, Leah Pinnavaia’s “other” music project, will enjoy the new recordings featuring her lead vocal work. With much attention from Musical Discoveries for Leah’s vocal lead on one track on the band’s last album, Shadow Days, we were very pleased to learn hear her lead vocals on ten of the thirteen tracks on the new album.
In addition to the development of the band’s sound and superior vocal work, listeners will also hear a remarkable increase in production, especially the integration of the instrumental parts and their resulting timing with the vocals. Harmonies are also richer and more robust and are clearly distinguished from single lead vocal passages. The time and care spent in the writing, recording and production is evident track by track and across the entire album.
While some progressive acts have difficulty with the length of their tracks, The Dreaming do not. We were pleased with the range of musical themes and the “right sizing” of each of the tracks from the shortest to the longest with a running time of just over 7:00. The album opens with the title track, a light ballad sung atop acoustic guitar. The strength and of Leah’s voice, even in the dissonant bridge, carries the song.
Ann’s first track is a coffee house styled track developing a rocking texture over its seven minutes, it is entitled “Summerland” and against the light arrangement with soft violin washes, the electric guitar licks and Leah’s soaring vocalise, the song delivers a highly memorable melody. Many listeners will be astounded by the radio friendly and accessible rocker entitled “Benny and Me.” A rich piano driven instrumental arrangement provides an excellent foundation for Leah’s lead. The vocalists’ harmonies and the well produced bridge contribute to the excellent sound of this rather short number.
The album’s first standout is “You Are The Ghost,” a melancholy and dramatically performed ballad, with Leah’s stunning lead vocal backed resiliantly by Mary Ramsey on violin, with lush vocal harmonies in the choruses. In sharp contrast the acoustic guitar instrumental “Tiphareth,” virtuously performed by Daniel Haskin follows. Clearly led by Mary Ramsey’s violin part, an album standout, “Here And Now” features Leah’s heartfelt lead vocal. In addition to Mary’s standout violin playing and dramatic textural changes in the theme, soaring vocal harmonies and rich supporting instrumentation are just tremendous. Oh, how we’d like to see this number performed by these artists on stage.
Mary’s violin adds to the melancholy sound in “Without You” and perfectly complements Ann’s fantastic lead in this coffee house style ballad. We have much admiration for the production quality that has perfectly balanced the light piano and acoustic guitar instrumental arrangements with the striking violin part and lush vocal harmonies. “The Dream King” is an upbeat acoustic rocker that seems as if it has been part of the band’s repertoire for ever. With Leah’s lead vocal recorded without audio processing and with a bit of a hook, vocal harmonies in the chorus are extremely memorable.
The torch ballad “Doors” is a tremendous testament to the band’s lead vocalist Leah Pinnavaia. In a style not that distant from a West End or Broadway musical number written for the lead soprano, Leah sings it wonderfully atop light arrangements backed by soft harmonies. To our ears, it is clearly one of the album’s standouts.
The album’s contrasting country-styled tracks “Shining Day” (led by Ann) and “Red Sun’s Horizon” (led by Leah) clearly demonstrate the band’s virtuousity not only in their performance but in their thematic stylings. The latter clearly has a “western” edge to it and would be as at home as a theme to a modern cowboy movie as it is at home on the album. The former is more “Americana” country in its theme as evidenced by slide guitar and Ann’s soaring vocal delivery. We enjoyed the vocalists switch in lead midway through. The vocal harmonies, once again, are superb.
“Too Many Things,” again featuring stunning violin passages by Mary Ramsey, is an upbeat and accessible number with Leah’s powerful lead vocal perfectly harmonized by Ann, especially in the choruses. The album finishes with the short but richly arranged song “I Don’t Know.” Rhythmically played acoustic guitar is offset by electric guitar and gentle keyboard washes. Supported by excellent instrumentation, Leah’s evocative lead vocal and Ann’s vocal harmonies left us perfectly satisfied as the album comes to a conclusion.
Upon release, Machines Of Love And War will be available from The Dreaming’s website and at their live performances. The Dreaming are known for providing streaming audio of their material for the website’s visitors. Visit them often. The band’s followers have waited a long time for this album to emerge and based on our listening this past week, it will be proven to be well worth it. We compliment the writers on this tremendous new material and the singers for their vocal contributions. Stunning.
CD Review – Shadow Days
By Lindsay Sorrell
Shadow Days, the most recent offering from New York band The Dreaming, is an album of multifaceted tracks which defies precise categorisation. The songs on the album were written by Daniel Haskin (guitar, ebow and keyboard) and Ray Lorigo (guitar and bass). Ann Janish-Schieder, who also plays keyboard, provides the often haunting vocals, frequently complementing the music as though her voice were an additional instrument. Leah Pinnavaia adds harmonies (together with lead vocal on one track) and clarinet, while Patrick O’Connell provides drums, percussion and additional acoustic guitar. Vaguely reminiscent of a wide diversity of artists, there is a “world-music” feel to some tracks as primitive and modern influences merge, a track with a “swing” sound, two attractive instrumentals, one track which has a country flavour, and a variety of songs which make interesting listening with often thought-provoking lyrics.
The opening track, Demons, features some gentle percussion overlaid with Ann’s vocals and some effective harmonising, which is followed by the slower, more wistful sounding Useful Vagueness, a beautiful track with some nice guitar and bass which changes tempo to speed up, then slow again. My 13-year old son’s remark was that it reminds him of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers – on this I cannot comment but they are one of his favourite bands, so high praise!
Perfect Skin, the third track, is a very pleasant, floaty ballad with some lovely acoustic guitar, clarinet accompaniment and interesting lyrics about the impossibility of living up to the perfect screen images portrayed by female Hollywood screen goddesses. This particular track reminds me vaguely of Illusion, a band I enjoyed listening to way back in the 1970s.
Piglet and the Black Fox changes the mood entirely; a rockier song altogether which alternates between prog rock electric guitar, haunting keyboard and distant female echoes, at times almost punkish vocals sound reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux, highlighting the versatility of The Dreaming. This track seamlessly segues into Love is a Grieving Thing, once again slower and more melodic, with lyrics reflected in the title. Supernova follows, a meandering, spacey song with some sensitive clarinet playing and melodic electric guitar. The next track is the first of two instrumentals, Loki; very attractive indeed.
My Resurrection follows, initially with a “big” sound which mellows and once again wends and weaves its way, overlaid with Anne’s vocals. Mourning Rain, pulls more surprises out of the bag as it has a folky, almost country, feel both lyrically and musically, largely supplied by the addition of Joe Pinnavaia on mandolin. This is followed by Hard Enough, where swing appears to be the major influence!
The album finishes with The Dreaming, an ethereal sounding track which for me evokes “the Dreaming” of Aboriginal culture, timeless tales passed from one generation to the next of the natural world and its creation.
. . . . .
Dulcet vocals, graceful instrumentation and sweet melodies lull the listener into a relaxed,
dreamlike state on the debut CD by the band appropriately called the Dreaming.
– Toni Ruberto, Buffalo News
Based out of Buffalo, New York, and featuring Ann Janish, Ray Lorigo, Daniel Haskin, and Pat O’Connell, The Dreaming blend myriads of styles, from alternative folk, to jazz, to ethereal, to progressive, weaving their own style of musical soundscape. The artists are all established in the Buffalo jazz and folk scene. Full biographies are available at the band’s website.
The Dreaming’s full length album Picturebook Rain (Dreamtime Records (USA), 2002) has just been released. This album follows a six-track EP entitled Silent (Dreamtime Records (USA), 2000) released almost two years ago. We review them both here.
Picturebook Rain. The band’s first full-length album is comprised of fourteen relatively short tracks that span a range of styles. Ann Janish-Schieder continues to front the band on vocals and contributes keyboard and piano. The line-up is completed by Ray Lorgo (guitars, classical, acoustic, electric), Daniel Haskin (guitars, acoustic, electric ebow, keyboards) and Pat O’Connell (drums, percussion). Guests include Chris Nagy (drums) and Cathy Carfagna-Meinzer and Mari Anderson (backing vocals)
The album is a clear development from the band’s first EP release. Instrumental and vocal arrangements are substantially more lush. The band have certainly developed into the art- or progressive-rock direction from the folky and bluesy roots of their debut through the loss of the violin and viola parts. It takes a while to get used to the “slightly out” timing of the various instrumental layers. The album opens with the title track which is an upbeat but light progressive-style rock classic. Vocal layers make an instant positive impression.
“Fifteen Minutes” is an upbeat rock style piece with lovely acoustic guitar backing and solos during the instrumental bridges and a sensitively sung vocal line. The sweet folk rock tune “Keep Breathing” is more sultry but equally enjoyable. The album’s acoustic guitar instrumental “Need” builds upon “Ultramarine” from the band’s debut EP. An album standout is light rocker “No Man,” richly arranged around keyboard, guitar and drums and Ann Janish’s lovely while somewhat sultry lead vocal. We especially enjoyed the flute (keyboard) solo during the instrumental bridge.
The ballad “Asymetrical,” backed with acoustic guitar and flute (keyboard), is reminscent of Michael Dunford’s Renaissance with Stephanie Adlington in both arrangement and Ann’s theatrical vocal style. Lush symphonic keyboard arrangements support the slow progressive track “Beautiful Lost Thing.” Ann’s continued theatrical vocal delivery and the keyboard-based arrangements perfectly compliment one another. The upbeat folky tune “Sweet Mary” effectively incorporate Cathy’s and Mari’s lovely backing vocals as does the jazz rock crossover “Ophelia in Pink Electric Blue,” two of the album’s standouts.
The slow and atmospheric ballad “Evergreen and Red” blends acoustic guitar and keyboards in an effective arrangements to perfectly support Ann’s lead vocal. We especially enjoyed the mood and tempo changes in the rocker “Bed of Roses,” the definitive album standout with vocals underscored by a dynamic progressive-style piano, guitar and drum arrangement.
“Below The Navel” illustrates the band’s funkier style with Chris Nagy on drums, electric guitar excursions and layers of Ann’s vocals adding to the resulting texture. “Alone In My Room” is lightly arranged with only acoustic guitar and finger snapping giving Ann’s vocals the space to shine. The album closes with the evocatively sung torch song “Stay,” accompanied by piano alone except for the instrumental brige which includes a lovely acoustic guitar sequence.
The Dreaming’s first recording is comprised of six relatively short tracks dominated by Ann Janish’s sweet and sensual vocals. The line-up for the CD is completed by Ray Lorigo (acoustic, classical guitar), Daniel Haskin (acoustic / electric guitar, juno 106), Cindy McCaffery (viola, zeta violin) and Kilissa Cissoko (percussion, conga). The recording opens with “I Think I’ll Disappear” a light folk rock tune sung primarily over acoustic guitar although light keyboards and viola underscore the main melody well.
In the bluesy track “Need,” viola takes over in the melody supported by acoustic guitar. Ann’s vocals climb well above the arrangement with power and range that illustrate the depth of her talent. The acoustic guitar dominates “Silent,” a lightly rocking tune with folk roots that emerge from Cindy’s viola part. Again the listener is treated to Ann’s powerful vocal which climbs above the instrumental arrangement. “The Getaway” is a slow and bluesy track that derives its texture from sliding guitar chords and a sultry vocal line. We especially enjoyed the piano part during the instrumental bridge.
The violin and viola parts in “For Real” establish the upbeat folk rock texture that underscores Ann’s evocative lead vocal. The concluding track is a classical guitar instrumental entitled “Ultramarine” and is a tribute to the virtuousity of Ray Lorigo and Daniel Haskin. Like their full length album, the band’s EP appears to have been put together without the aid of digital sequencing and the timing of the individual parts has that “slightly out” quality of an almost live recording.
Both CDs by The Dreaming can be ordered from the band’s website. Clearly worth a journey this light progressive band’s music should be explored further. The material is indeed a very nice listen!