Sepia Dreamer - _The Sublime_
(Galactic Records, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (7 out of 10)
Generally I'm finding it hard to get too stoked for these instrumental albums that strive to balance metal, goth, darkwave, classical, etc. into a seamless blend of haunting atmospherics. More often than not, they consist of completely irony-free wank fests generated as a cheap revenue-sharing plan between some dude looking to expand his palette outside his bread-and-butter band and this chick he's acquainted with -- see, she can sing real good, you know, and hey, if you can record an album on 35 cents via ProTools by holding down some ominous whole notes on a garage sale keyboard and have this chick sing into a mike while sipping on red wine, then why the hell not?

Yeah, you get a little jaded after the first three dozen of these in any given month. Thankfully, Sepia Dreamer have something to offer beyond the mere narcotic lull of most such recordings. First of all, while _The Sublime_ is indeed an instrumental album, it's far from a collection of meandering, dirge-like Casio work outs. The two minute opener "Gateway" might have you believe otherwise, but the remaining three tracks feature plenty of goth metal guitar/synth interplay and -- Eureka! -- they actually have a pulse. OK, the press bio and even the poem in the liner notes smack of the same pretension befalling those "other" projects I referred to above, but the actual product itself finds the musicians involved with their feet firmly grounded, despite the soporific theme of the album.

The bulk of _The Sublime_ consists of two tracks running fifteen and nineteen minutes. "The Exposition" continues where "Gateway" left off, with a classically influenced keyboard intro which doesn't bode well for those expecting another wank fest, but the track eventually alleviates those fears when the guitars kick in; all in all, a successful mood piece that expertly shifts from moody ambience to actual riff-based song craft. "Development" opens with the chugging minor key guitar riffs, later segueing into a David Gilmour-like exploratory duet with plinking keyboards before riling itself back up into a florid goth metal ambience.

In many ways, _The Sublime_ remains background music, but of the type that underscores one's nocturnal slumbers rather than the aimless elevator metal of a great deal of Sepia Dreamer's peers.


(article published 25/3/2007)

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