Dreamback – Escape
Written by Mark Anderson on May 27, 2021
I’m a huge post rock fan and can find myself wallowing in fifteen-minute-long instrumental tracks and loving every minute. What I really enjoy though is when post rock merges with other genres to create something new and exciting. This is exactly what UK-based producer/musician Jamie Duddy has achieved with his musical project Dreamback. You may remember hearing his DKFM debut on The Velvet Hum Goes to England a few weeks ago.
Drawing on influences including My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive, Japanese Breakfast and Tame Impala, Dreamback combines lush, dreamy reverberation, fuzzy distortion and shimmering acoustic guitar to create layered soundscapes. Jamie has been sound tracking his dreams since August 2020 leading to the release of his After Before EP in October 2020. He now releases his debut album Escape and I’ve been lost in it these last few weeks.
The album opens on “Blue” a wonderfully light song. It floats along on a picked acoustic theme, echoing Lemon Jelly in parts. In other parts you feel like you are listening to a lost Cocteau Twins track. A confident and assured way to open any album.
“Tired” fuses a dreamy aesthetic with a fuzzed-out jangle pop vibe. Vocals come from Duddy’s wife Laura who brings the steadiness and charm of Tracy Tracy and Rachel Goswell to the song.
After a short glitchy segue we move into “Daze”, again utilising that acoustic base to build from. This time however Jamie strikes a marked contrast with a fuzzed-out guitar playing a wonderful glide part. Definitely drawing on his inner Kevin Shields. This song showcases Jamie’s understanding of dynamics and scale in a song. Superb.
“Still” is a chilled and sombre instrumental, all mood and feeling. Its icy notes and shrill drums take you away to the tundra at midsummer. I love how Duddy isn’t afraid to mix it up with pace and textures.
Moving into “Distant” Laura’s gossamer tones make a welcome return. Rather than providing lyrical content she provides warm texture to contrast the glacial guitars.
“Everfall” enters with the eerie folk sensibility of Fairport Convention, coupled with the sonic know-how of Robin Guthrie. Duddy is playing with some really esoteric stuff on this track and by god does he make it work.
Laura returns for “Afternoon”. Her voice is incredible and really lends the song a 90’s authenticity. It reminds me of a lost Ultra Vivid Scene song. I could easily hear Kim Deal singing this.
I absolutely love Sigur Ros for the atmosphere they create and capture on their albums. In “Breathe”, Duddy has similarly created a space all of his own and crammed it full of mood and feeling. The ascending chords are jubilant however it’s the subtle glide guitar that makes this song come together.
We segue neatly into the distant drumbeat of “Skylight”. This feels like the sibling to “Breathe”. It feels more grown up and pushes forward more definitely but maintains that mood and feeling.
We leave that mood behind for the warm and lush tones of “Sunwash”. I love the production on this song. Duddy slowly builds layers and textures to create a beautiful soundscape. I think Duddy himself liked what was happening here as this is the longest track on the album by far. This has an OK Computer-era Radiohead standard of guitar inventiveness which is no mean feat for your debut album.
“LBD” is a song built on these gorgeous descending chords. The beauty of what you hear defies the sheer simplicity of the chords being played. It’s enormously lush and romantic and will have you swooning.
Duddy himself takes the lead vocal on “Razor” our penultimate track. I love the treatment on the vocals, it has all the hallmarks of a My Bloody Valentine EP track like “Don’t Ask Why”. This is my favourite track, simply for the moment where he sings “Close your eyes”. Once you hear it you will know why too.
The album closes on the aptly titled “After”. There is something very final, something that’s says ‘this is the end’ about “After”. The layered guitar parts that escalate in the verse sections to the steady and sure-footed drums provide a stately and beautiful conclusion.
Escape is an experimental album, sure, but at its core is a dream pop authenticity you cannot deny. The structure may be unlike anything you have heard recently, but the beating heart of the music comes from the DNA of all the bands we love. This is a stunning debut and I cannot wait to hear what comes next from this very talented musician.
Escape is available now via the Dreamback Bandcamp page.
You can follow Dreamback on all platforms via their link tree here.