The Reveries sing and play standards – from Cole Porter to Nick Cave. They call what they do sweet jazz. It is, but in an altered state precipitating an altered state. This would be hallucinogenic music if hallucinations were real (there are no illusions at work here). This figures – in any setting, all three are insidiously mind-bending musicians. Here, startlingly idiosyncratic guitar playing merges with sweet vocal harmonies and the strange virtuosity they bring to playing a number of fragile and ungainly instruments: the nose flute, the bowed saw, the thumb reeds (strips of balloon rubber stretched between the thumbs and blown in a way one would a blade of grass), and the quasi-ruler bass (a strip of metal held on a table with one hand and plucked with the other, as one would pluck a ruler while holding one end tight to a desk). But the real engines of the waking dream that is the Reveries’ music are the mouth speakers. These are small speakers, taken from the earpieces of cellular phones, hung inside their mouths. Every instrument has a contact microphone on it. So, for example, Eric's guitar can be heard coming out of the speaker in Doug's mouth, Doug's guitar or saw can be heard coming out of the speaker in Ryan's mouth, and anything Ryan does with his mouth can be heard coming out of the speaker in Eric's mouth. Because each Reverie is always using his mouth (either to sing or play an instrument), the speaker signal is filtered in a wild array of wah-wah effects caused by the changing shape of their mouth cavity (it recalls Sly Stone using a talk box; or yah, ok, it might remind one of Peter Frampton as well…). The sound of their singing is further distorted by the fact that they have waterproof audio cable (attached to the speaker) hanging out of the sides of their mouths. The effect of this is that their singing is reminiscent, both in the way it sounds and looks (drool and all), of someone trying to talk with a dentist's irrigation tube hanging out of his mouth. All of these activities are picked up by air microphones and amplified through a small home stereo.
The Reveries' music is incredibly strange/unknowably wonderful. It is dreamy and caustic at the same time. The viscerality of the tasks they set themselves and the labour intensity these exude is especially disorienting given the mellow, lymphatic slackness of the music's flow. Experiencing it is like encountering delicate ultra-lounge psychedelia picked up from afar on a static-ridden short-wave radio. This isn’t a piss-take. There is no smart-ass cynicism or parody in sight. They are not mimicking the representational incongruities of a dream-thought. They’re exerting the dream-work on their songs – the distortions are operating on the deep, pre-symbolic guts of the music. The Reveries make music that’s a reverie – an absent-minded daydream; but it might be worth knowing that “reverie” is derived from the old-French word for wildness. There’s nothing tame or civilized going on here.
All songs arranged by The Reveries
Recorded live in Toronto at Canadia dell'Arte, February 23, 2002
Mastered by John Oswald at M Lab
Design by Lewis Nicholson
Drawing by Marla Hlady
Photography by Sam Higga
Rat-drifting music searches for specificity, celebrates detail. It experiments with radical particularity and wonders about
the possibilities and potentials of those experiments. If the music drifts, it does so in the hopes that the listener drifts with it—her/his imagination experimenting with the possibilities of the music as well, as they find their own route through their own experience....more