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Evan Caminiti - Dreamless Sleep

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Artist: Evan Caminiti

Album: Dreamless Sleep

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: Nov. 1, 2012

The chipper tour guide at the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition last week told us that dreams were simply our thetans keeping themselves amused while our bodies rested. Though I’m no auditor, it seems to me that since we don’t dream constantly, and (depending on what you believe) some of us don’t dream at all, there are some pretty lazy thetans out there. From the name of this album, one might assume that Evan Caminiti’s might be one of them, but in choosing Dreamless Sleep as the title for his fifth solo full-length, Caminiti leads the listener astray. The title suggests something utterly peaceful, almost empty of event, so minimal that it’s barely even there. The seven tracks on the album are more active, more evocative of dream states than the slumber that occurs in their absence.

Dreamless Sleep began in 2011 as a series of 4-track recordings. Just as our dreaming brains unpack and reconfigure the thoughts and stimuli that have filled our waking minds, Caminiti, months after the original performances, revisited the recordings, and used the source material to create a new set of songs. These transformed versions of the originals share a hazy, dimly lit atmosphere, and a coating of grit that offsets their often peaceful core. Lumbering, placid drones are laced with the more assertive call of Caminiti’s distorted guitar, and synthesizer is buried underneath a coating of Victrola-style scratchiness or a murky layer of underwater refraction. The guitar is often a forceful presence, with Caminiti slinging arcing, fuzzy licks across the foreground of the tracks, sounding almost searing in relation to the ambience underneath.

Caminiti’s tools and means are familiar ones, and there’s not a whole lot to set Dreamless Sleep apart from so many of its stylistic kin. Caminiti mostly manages to escape the clutches of the faceless nouveau new age that is so prevalent these days, but the album still feels rather rote. It’s probably a little overworked, its flashes of spontaneity dulled by a delivery that proceeds too predictably.

The best thing about dreams is that moment in which a seemingly normal situation is turned on its head, when the familiar is subverted by the seemingly random. This Dreamless Sleep, is often beautiful, but short on such surprises, and it becomes a bit of a snooze as a result.

By Adam Strohm

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