Review by Maxime Lachaud:
Dreams of Leaving is the first record made by Munich based so-called « Digital-Folk » artist, Konrad Bayer. This is the first piece of a series on seasons that the musician made during the years 2003/2004. The other ones include « Shall we go to the Park ?» on Spring and « Songs for Sunhi (Summerrain) » on Summer. This CD, based on techniques of loops and field recordings, takes Winter as its basis, but also the notion of escapism. The layers of acoustic guitar samples treated through digital electronics and the obsessive instrumental melodies offer much charm and can be seen as another great release from Dortmund label, Genesungswerk, active since 1997. Some of the songs have been composed with the help of another guy from this label, a musician from Norway named Päl Asle Pettersen.
The first song « Passages » starts with sweet circular loops coming and going like drops falling from a capricious sky, in an evocation of landscape and natural elements. This impression is even more obvious on the second title, « Mountains »: an icy electronica not so far from the work to come by other German artists such as Antlers Mulm and Fjernlys. Blurry and cold, this three-minute-long song, as the other ones, is much more like a photograph than a song. A fixed moment in time. We are drawn back to the cover of the record : a grey landscape obscured by the rain falling against the front window of a car. Only one sentence appears on the booklet : « a big fat flake of snow falling all alone ».
In « Seperating », the cold rain falls again, with much strength and persistence. The atmosphere is darker, with mad birds and industrial percussions. The record becomes overwhelming, hypnotizing. The sounds are powerful and repetitive, and the field recordings are entirely integrated in the compositions, reaching a kind of symphonic trance. « Aspertam » is the first song that is based on samples and loops of acoustic guitars, the « digital folk » sound to which the artist is associated. On « It was when », the sample of violins remind a funeral march through a landscape made abstract by snow, in a kind of thriller movie threatening atmosphere. Reversed sounds are used to emphasize the psychological neurosis and surrealistic domain in which the mind gets lost. High sounds create more anguish and there is a kind of dadaist terror that overwhelms this record.
« Liquorice » starts again with reversed sounds and a cold synthetic note soon replaced by famous classical melodies and memories of baroque orchestras. On the other hand, « Minus » begins with the sound of an helicopter and the noises of engines and machines. Much more mechanized sounds. Water falls down again, we hear angry crows and shovels trying to dig their way through the snow, the blipping sounds evoking a distorted mental state. Maybe our own.
« Dropper » achieves a real rhythmical construction in its use of loops, becoming even danceable at times and is the first of a series of more exotic songs. For example, the acoustic sounds in « Linoleum » evoke a strange folkish atmosphere accompanied with an old-school sounding rhythm n’box. We could be in Eastern Europe or… why not?… in Asia. Snow is no longer there, and the record becomes sunnier, more attractive in a way. The loops of slide guitars on « Vase » gives us once again this idea of escape, here an American desert is suggested, soon replaced by ritual percussions of an African tribe. Like a travel round the world, « Five Fingers » brings us closer to India in a first part but ends like a fair or a ceremony in China. The last song is an appeased conclusion, almost new age. We come back to the sound of rain falling. The dream is over. This epilogue brings us back to reality, with the sound of a piano in the background.
We can see these « Dreams of Leaving » by Bayer as divided into three parts: the first one describing an abstract winter landscape, the second one dealing with the psychological states this coldness leads you to and the third one about these famous dreams of escape, a kind of travel round the world. In his following releases, Bayer will explore these foreign domains much more thoroughly. If you want a change of scenery, this record is for you.