Lucid Dreams by “Alias Zone” (Richard Bugg, Chris Meyer, Keith Snyder, Lucky Westfall, Richard Zvonar) CyberMotion Records, 2001 http://www.cybmotion.com/aliaszone Exotic Oriental percussion, choppy guitar and drumbeats, techno rhythms, spoken word, and a wide array of sampled environmental sounds blend together in this cool, ironic album. Lucid Dreams evokes a film-noir-ish world of rootless Americans and disrupted civilizations, a fragmented Asia where ancient temples have Coke stands in their courtyards and satellite dishes sit beside thatch-roofed tropical huts. Thunder, rain, and crickets are the background to an international array of drums and acoustic bass lines, punctuated by half-heard modified voices. The main melody in most of the tracks is played on flute Richard Bugg’s playing is excellent.
The mood is that of global cynicism and regret. Voices speak or chant in incomprehensible languages, as the percussion and bass roll along, as if the listener were lost and wandering through the smoky, crowded streets of a humid South Asian city. A narrator appears in some tracks, speaking in a kind of “word jazz,” to tell his story of confusion, sadness, and a kind of bleak enlightenment. On cut 9, “The River,” Lucid Dreams blends the spoken testimony of a weary Vietnam vet with Lyndon Johnson’s speech announcing his refusal to run again for president. Later, the Vietnam vet’s voice is interwoven with an old speech of Adlai Stevenson, talking about the values and history which made America great. It’s all pretty bitter, if you think about the message the juxtaposed words are conveying. But no matter what the message is, the rhythms and the music are good listening.
By the way: This album’s style is very much like that of another album, Before the War by David Rothenburg and Douglas Quin. (Earth Ear Records, http://www.EarthEar.com). There’s the same use of environmental samples mixed with minor harmonies, jazz rhythms and exotic percussion, along with recited stories with equally sad messages. If you liked Lucid Dreams, try this one too.
HMGS rating: 7 out of 10 Hannah M.G. Shapero 11/15/01
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