1. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
In search of new music for the New Year, I was fortunate enough to find Imaginary Airship, a local band that makes music the way I remember it from the 70’s. Experimental and new, but possessing that quality and care that make the listener want to sit back with a cup of java and listen to the entire album void of distractions.
The band name was inspired from the mysterious story: “In 1896, the Pacific Northwest was flooded with reports of an extraordinary flying machine.” “Whether mass hysteria or something more mysterious, that slowly drifting dirigible is an icon of Oregon's partly cloudy past…”
That was enough to get the curiosity going. This band “combines disparate elements of indie rock, 60's garage, progressive rock, brit-pop, shoegaze, jazz, electronic, orchestral music, acoustic, and psychedelic rock…(Imaginary Airship’s MySpace 2010)..”
2. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
1. Where Dreams Take Flight – One of the best ways to open any album about dreams, nice soft acoustic guitar and then the dream - like choir sound in the background before the ‘Brian Wilson – like’ vocals enter the airspace and the first lyrics of this masterpiece begin .“Give it up.” “Lose it all and you’ll see just what you’re made of.” “Take the fall.” “Lose it all and you’ll see just what you can be.” Theme in place, the power of this opener sets the listener on the journey through this cosmic dreamscape.
2. Closing Down – Footsteps, and then those ‘Brian Wilson’ vocals as the story begins. “Sometimes when the world seems so cold and lonely someone new appears out of the past, and I can’t believe I didn’t notice how beautiful you were way back then.” Yes, dreamy lyrics with the support of Missi’s vocals. Perfect harmonies and atmosphere as the room is filled with pillows of sound like clouds. Very cool effects. “A friend like you I hope will stay around.” “Listen closely; you will hear the sound as time winds down.” Taking you back to your childhood memories and friends of the past. Then, the pitter patter of steps on wooden floor as the story moves on.
3. Kaleidoscope Dream – Instrumental effects that will put you in that dream state, if you’re not already there. Cool synthesizers and ambient sounds that really take you away to another place. You only get the full effect if you turn this up to appreciate every minute and sound being delivered. An incredible instrumental work of art.
4. Mr. Wonderful – The ‘money’ song. This one will make you remember the band forever. The early Pink Floyd rhythms and instrumentation along with the ‘Brian Wilson – like’ vocals separate this band from the pack of prog bands in the genre. The background eerie sound effects like early Floyd really make this the highlight of the album. Be careful of wishing for perfection on earth in any way. The guitar riffs are some of the best I’ve heard in a while. This one will lift you out of your seat as you try to air guitar the riffs along with the band. Incredible.
5. Unicorn’s Flight – Another dreamy voyage song to lift you back to the dream state after the last song’s climactic roar. The synths will remind you of early Genesis, Yes, and a number of the powerful seminal bands of the 70s.
6. Bright New Day – My second favorite song on the album. We all need hope and this song really brings it in so many dimensions. “Still you say there’s always a way.” “With the sunrise comes a bright new day.” “Although it seems a million miles away.” “Just hold on, it’ll be ok. “ “Here comes a bright new day.” The guitar solo and vocals are solid, lifting the listener and creating a comfortable feeling of being at the high point of any dream.
7. Kaleidoscope Nightmare – Unfortunately with dreams, come nightmares. After such an up song, the listener is slowly plunged into a bizarre but cool nightmare roller – coaster of a ride through early ‘Pink Floyd and Beatles White Album – like’ sound effects. The sound effects and vocal incantations are so Floydian and eerie it simply cannot be explained, and must be experienced.
8. False Gods & Funerals – Remember the sound of a needle being placed on a vinyl album? The scratches sound brilliant again. The nightmare continues. Now looking back, Jonathan engages the listener in his feelings during one of the lowest points in anyone’s life. Strings and synths surround you as Jonathan tells the story using vocal sound effects, before the full ‘Brian Wilson’ vocals return. The thundering drums and power of the dark chords is such a variation from the dreamlike sounds that opened the album. The guitar solos and riffs will have you remembering all of that old Floyd vinyl you stored away. Heaviest song on this album and another very memorable performance. Would be incredible to see this one live. The final launching scream and calliope - like sounds at the end are just mind bending.
9. Existential Questions Pt. One For Guitar & Orchestra as Broadcast Through Small Transistor Radio – Harp and angel – like vocal sounds. My favorite song on the album. The journey back after the nightmare ends. The lyrics are the best on the album. Just wonderful sounds with Mimi supporting in the background. “Like the wind that your eyes cannot see.” “Like the love that’s felt between you and me.” “Giving meaning to each breath that I breathe…”, then that Beach Boy – like harmony.
10. Ascension/Where Dreams Take Flight – Synths and the refrain of the opening lyrics to help close the story and end the dream. If you’re like me, you’re ready to go back and do it all over again. One of the most emotionally uplifting albums I have heard in a while. Sometimes you have to lose to gain. When one door closes, another opens. “Give it up.” “Lose it all and you’ll see just what you’re made of.” “Take the fall. Lose it all and you’ll see just what you can be.”
3. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
Absolutely yes, it’s incredible! When Dreams Take Flight will be one of those favorites that I always pull out to escape the realities of the daily grind. This is a wonderful journey that you can take without leaving the sofa or easy chair. It is brought to us with such care, precision and feeling that you can’t help be moved by all the songs. It is by far my favorite discovery of this new year.
A complete story built in the way the seminal bands of the 70s built a storyline and then developed it with powerful rhythm and harmonies. The music and lyrics meld to make a strong debut statement for this band.
4. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
I have been playing it every day since I received it and expect that to continue for some time. This is exceptional music and I wish I had found it sooner.
Rating: 10/10 – I rarely give out 10s for new bands. Finding this band and receiving this promo copy really has been an early highlight of this New Year. Looking forward to their next one. Hoping it will make it to us this year.
Reviewed by Prof on February 7th, 2010