another country by dreamcrusher (2020)

originally published 31 dec 2020 on

On the plane back to █████ yesterday I realized that I've never written a legitimate review of dreamcrusher, whom is hands down my favorite discovery of the entire year (the whom is comedic, I know it's grammatically incorrect). Therefore, I'm going to tell u in extensive detail about my number one album of 2020 - dreamcrusher's Another Country. Enjoy and happy new year :)

I discovered dreamcrusher at the height of quarantine - around April/May - when I was spending each stale, numberless day washing dishes, taking obligatory walks around the neighborhood, and reading random research papers (I learned a lot about womanism, DMT, the New Thought movement of the 19th century, and Donna Haraway's theories on anthropocentrism during quarantine). These made perfect idle activities for music listening, so I thankfully got to explore huge volumes of new albums throughout the summer - one of them dreamcrusher's Incinerator. Only the 19th of their 39 releases to date, I think Incinerator was actually a fantastic introduction to dreamcrusher because it's so straightforward - more akin to harsh noise than anything. Incinerator is, simply, 55 minutes of earsplitting distorted club beats. But that's not to say it’s overly simplistic, because at the time I heard it I was awed. There is something so corrosive, so four-dimensional about the tones dreamcrusher calls home; at high volumes (the only volume at which you should listen to dreamcrusher), you can almost step inside the overtones and combination tones created by the distortion, transforming a pretty basic melody into a rich and very crunchy landscape. Like a nightclub sharpened by the stench of iron, or the texture of the sky in one’s dreams, darkened and scratched out by the fallibility of the subconscious. It's an album I know Maryanne Amacher would have loved if she were still alive.

But just as Incinerator was only the beginning of my journey with dreamcrusher, it was only a foundation for the complex sonic structures they would explore in later releases. In June, they released Another Country, named after the James Baldwin novel and inspired by the revolutionary thinking that was birthed from our collective isolation and grief then. Personally, I’m so sick of rhetoric like “this unprecedented year was difficult for all of us” that it makes me nauseous, but one simply can’t talk about a Summer 2020 album without inching toward that territory – especially not Another Country, because it is so charged with that distinct amalgam of feelings that still none of us can name (that maybe none of us SHOULD name). Which isn’t unlike the album itself, really – while the tracks DO have a name, they were released as a single 43-minute mass, so you really can’t figure out where one ends and the next begins, much less play them in any order other than chronological. I adore that choice though, and partially because every track is so well-placed that I WANT to listen to every one chronologically. But it also adds to the dissociated feeling of dreamcrusher’s tone – drowning R&B riffs in a dense ocean of white noise, or trapping feverish monologues under layers of metallic debris, all at volumes so intense that I have to mentally prep each time I click play.

Dreamcrusher hardly even affords you a lyric sheet - save for one track, a spoken word poem by S*an D Henry-Smith that epitomizes their “nihilist queer revolt musik” philosophy. “All praise Daughters of Resentment, our soured tongues thirsts for water, and we will not stop seeking our satisfaction until we are no longer thirsty; that would be out of character,” they almost-audibly murmur over an ever-decomposing gospel riff, “mouthfaint aroma, link up in that other place, noisy interiority. there is nothing and even there, there is life.” The manifesto is immediately followed by a gaudy melody that sounds strongly reminiscent of a national anthem – at first I disliked it for that very reason, and then one day I realized, “oh, maybe that’s the whole point.” Heavily distorted and washed in a tinnitus-like drone, it bastardizes anthem; it recontextualizes the patriotic spirit in its most truthful light, which is egocentric and distasteful at best. Interestingly, the way this track symbolically utilizes distortion differs from the other tracks, which seem to be equally inflamed and disembodied by the atmosphere – as if, in a state of intangibility, the most revolutionary of visions can finally thrive.

All of these collective wordlessnesses, dreamcrusher articulates perfectly with sound – even more, they do it with a rich and distinct sound that has been refined, meditated upon, over decades of work. THAT is why I love them so much. I have not found a single artist that sounds remotely like dreamcrusher, and especially not one who creates from the same perspective; that of blackness, of queerness, that sense of otherness that allows one to view the world from underneath it. Dreamcrusher sees things I don’t. And that excites me more than anything.