There Is Danger in Living Dreams

Sometimes you discover albums by going to shows, by following the bands, by paying your dues and meeting them face to face—there are other times when you find out about an album that will tantalize your ears and no one knows about it. This is what I live for. I have been a fan of The Whisperlights for years now, but when I heard that Ills Riske was putting out an album under the label of There Is Danger, I was thrilled and very nearly overwhelmed. Now, I know about his talent and the musicians he could assemble, but I didn’t quite realize what the result would be. It’s magnificent. No discussion. It is THE best album that few will hear this year. My only hope is that this article changes that, because it should.

I hear a lot of albums, I have a lot of records sent to me and honestly, the ones I don’t  like, I delete—some I save because I know in later days I may enjoy them. Some, I savor, some, I know mean more in the long run, I dare you to listen to Living Dreams and deny that it is anything but brilliant on any level. No .Seriously. I dare you. Do it. The opening alone of “My Bleeding  Heart” is simply astounding—I’m not talkling local-this-is-amazing-and –everyone-should-be- proud, I mean this is Sgt. Pepper amazing. Stunning. I talked with others and we can’t stand how good it is. Last month it was Saddles, this month, There Is Danger—the genius’ within our midst have nothing to do with popularity. I want to spend my time finding all the worthy albums, all the hidden gems, all the madness driven greatness—Living Dreams is definitely a step in that direction. It almost bothers me how great it is. Honestly, no offense  to The Whisperlights, but this far surpasses any of their efforts.

Barring a new album by The Whisperlights, and I’m not even sure that would hold a candle to this, the release of this album is a stunning  debut, so to speak. I was in a discussion with other folks in the music industry and we were collectively snapped by this album. It’s not just good, it’s goddamned brilliant. “She’s Like The Earth” only backs up the opener, sleigh bells, harmonies—this is Riske’s Pet Sounds, but it doesn’t stop there. “It’s A Bad Idea” is probably the best song since 1966 and filled with more power and pose than that album could ever afford. I will not allow this album to be a lost gem, because it’s too important, beautiful and perfect to let it go. I know this is fan boy talk, but to hell with it, I’m a fan.

The opening of “Passport” is worth the price of admission alone, it is a standout track that serves as the centerpiece for the entire album. It is the stone upon which everything spins, and it seems purposefully so. The proclaiming cry and refrain is simply “Gimme adventure” and this may well be the most senseful thing said in the entire album as there are those who stay at home, some who go out and some who simply receive letters from the action man. “Nothing Holds” is an orchestral wonderland—sure it’s in an understated position on the album, but the snare roll alone will draw admiration. “If nothing can hold us together, then nothing can tear us apart, I’ve been known to hold a grudge” Deliver that as sensitively as Riske does, it’s almost impossible.

One person I know declared this as the greatest album of the year so far, by the time you get to “Terrible Warning” it’s not hard to see why. Between the layered harmonies or the infinite percussion, you can’t argue that over half way in, Living Dreams is achieving something akin to brilliance—perhaps even genius: : “And all your memories start to look the same, and all your memories start to feel the same.” I’m honestly not sure anyone is making music of such honesty, hurt and beauty all at once in this city or anywhere at this time. This is what makes this album stand out from all the others that are awaiting review on my hard drive. Riske had told me about the album throughout its production and creation, but I never could have anticipated this in any fashion. “Sleepwalk Back” is the darkest number on the entire affair and I suspect some of it is recorded backwards, if for no other reason than kicks, but also because it gives a suspiciously creepy vibe. This is a song about monsters—which isn’t a bad thing, Jad Fair once told me that there are only two kinds of songs: Love songs and Monster songs. This is a monster song. Cool.

Of note, it is the transitions between songs, whether it is footsteps in gravel or the sound of waves crashing in, between songs there are transitional environmental noises that appeal to the senses, that maintain a sense of continuity, that encourage an organic ethos. It may seem simple and subtle, but this kind of thing really ties an album together, especially if you are a music freak. “What Will You Leave” in this case, begins with waves rolling in—the entire song is sung to the surf, filled with a sensation of waves and the rolling over rolling of the ocean. This is heavily indebted to the early 70s Beach Boys, without mocking them or covering  them or even aping them—this is homage that may not have even been intentioned, nevertheless, this would have fit perfectly on Surf’s Up or Sunflower without pause. The finale of “When You Go” is as complex as the album gets, musically speaking and in regards to both percussion and syncopation. “The choir sings…we built cathedrals in the sky…I love you just the same…my heart will beat again…” So amazing, choral and beautifully delivered—it ‘s pretty unreal  actually.

It reads like a finale, an end cap for a masterpiece—and that’s what Living Dreams is, it’s a true achievement. It’s possibly the best album of the year. No, I’m calling it now. This is my favorite album of the year, because it grabbed my freaking soul and shook it for good. This album stole me so far further than any other. It was in the right place at the right time.

Now after you have listened to the album, treat yourself to something special tonight and get yourself to Crescent Ballroom. There Is Danger will be playing tonight with an amazing supporting lineup featuring Danger Paul and the Psychedelephants, Of The Painted Choir and Northern Hustle! The show is only $5, doors open at 7pm, music kicks your ass at 8pm. What the hell else have you got going on tonight to make up for missing this? I’ve never seen half the lineup live and I’ve written about all of them, so I HAVE to be there. If you absolutely can’t make it tonight, you may want to clear your plans for Sunday, August 18th when Crescent hosts “A Collaboration between Tobie Milford Quartet, There Is Danger and Underground Cities.”

Poster by Nicole Parasida

 

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