Album Review: Dreamtigers – ‘Ellapsis’

Posted: by The Editor

Featuring members from such diverse projects as Caspian, Balmorhea, Defeater, and The Amity Affliction, one might have a hard time figuring out where to place Dreamtigers. They are, indeed, a tough band to pin down, falling somewhere between post-rock and shoegaze, although there are shades of post-hardcore and emo here are there; for a very crude comparison, much of Ellapsis lands in the grey area between Pianos Become the Teeth’s Keep You and Thrice’s Beggars. Really, though, Dreamtigers don’t sound too much like anyone else, impressively enough, and instead are thoroughly their own creation.

The heavy and slow “Six Rivers” leads off the record, a song that sets the tone well for the next half hour or so. It’s thick and it’s fuzzy, but it’s never quite committed to shoegaze; it’s gritty and it’s aggressive, but it’s never quite committed to post-hardcore. The title track tacks in the latter direction, applying an airiness a la latter-day Far, especially when the song grinds to a halt during its second chorus in a moment that, in the hands of a lesser band, would kill the song’s momentum.  “I See the Future,” after, is the first of the album’s two six-minute epics, both of which hew, as one might guess, closer to post-rock. Of the two, “I See the Future” is the more traditional, nearly the entire song ratcheting upwards until it falls to pieces in pummeling, hypnotic final minutes; by contrast, closer “Stolen Moments” is a bit more conservative. It does at first emulate that classic rise-and-fall structure, but it leans more heavily on fuzzed-out guitar and piercing strings than it does raw aggression; the song hits its peak nearly halfway through, and the second half of the track is mostly a comedown, haunted by echoes of the riffs and bowed strings that lent it its backbone earlier.

“Stolen Moments” has a sort of spaciness to it, an emptiness at times that serves to emphasize better the fuller moments. When the band veers more in this spacier, more atmospheric direction, they turn in much of their best work. “For Sally” is one such example, built on booming riffs and ambient keys that make the song feel dark, foreboding; it has the cadence of a march to war. All that tension is let out in a fiery minute-long burst that takes Ellapsis into its most post-metal territory yet – all before the haze turns to a soft drone that heralds the introduction of the crunchy “3.13.8.”

This middle stretch of the record, from “For Sally,” leading into “3.13.8,” and ending with the two-minute “Percoset Blues,” is the heaviest portion, and the one that really makes the best use of the quiet-loud dynamic that the band so often employs on Ellapsis. “3.13.8” is teetering on the edge of total collapse its entire three-minute runtime, a buzzsaw riff simmering atop bone-rattling drums, but only in its final seconds does the whole thing really come to the fore as Jake Woodruff demands, “Raise your broken hands with the conviction of a prayer. It flows well into the feedback-tainted “Percoset Blues,” which, too, carries an unsettling harshness in the persistence of its warlike drumbeat; that the song doesn’t really end, only drowns out in the same feedback that laid its foundation, only adds to this feeling.

The penultimate “Never See the City,” then, nestled between the haze that envelops “Percoset Blues” and the sparse plucked notes that open “Stolen Moments,” is something of a breath, a moment to come up for air before plunging back down. It doesn’t strike the same balance as much of the rest of Ellapsis; it never tumbles into the carthatic bridge that opens so many of the other songs on the record. Instead, it plods along until it can’t anymore; Woodruff repeats the song’s last line over and over – “It doesn’t make a difference / I just do what I can / I don’t think I’ll ever / see the city again – with more and more band members joining him until he, alone, croons, “I don’t think I’ll ever—.” He leaves the line unfinished, denying that lyrical closure the same way the band behind him denies it musically. Perhaps Dreamtigers will never see the city again, but they seem content to build their own home.


Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Ellapsis is out 2/18 through Skeletal Lightning.

Zac Djamoos // @gr8whitebison

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