Murky drones culled from “field recordings and found sounds…played from audio cassettes through various effects pedals” make up the crux of When Do We Dream, the debut release from Grey Frequency. The pieces here are, according to the artist, mixed in one take. That’s a tricky proposition, and looking at it strictly from a dark ambient standpoint, he pulls it off reasonably well. But there’s a thickness of sound here, a ceaseless density that contributes to a lot of sameness of sound. Everything is ominous, weighty, and glacial in its forward progress. The texture of the sounds seems to change only slightly, track to track. I find myself wanting to move on, or to catch hold of some more tactile shift in execution. There are spots where this happens. The wobbling, resonant metallic clangs that rise in “Carbon Monoxide” are like a frightening wake-up call in the middle of an unfortunate dream, the sense of something bad about to happen. The slow-moving, higher-tone melody that whispers beneath the sound in “A Million Broken Hearts” is also a nice touch. What makes it work is how Grey Frequency keeps it scaled back like a distant dream against the fog-bank of drone. “Brownfield” threatens to take up a beat as what sounds almost like the manipulated sound of a train echoes over misty drones and a guttural snarl from somewhere off in the darkness. This track has a good rusty-industrial touch to it. When Do We Dream is aimed firmly in the noise/dark direction, and to that end, it does work. It’s not always comfortable, and the spaces it describes are, well, grey. Listeners whose tastes run toward the grim, uneasy side of things will want to have a listen.
Available at Bandcamp.