Romance & Dean Hurley smudge the collective timeline on a second collaborative album of youtube-sampling ambient fantasies, landing somewhere on the dial between meditation tape, social commentary and regression therapy. Stunning melodramatic wooze from the Lynchian paradigm – essential listening if yr into anything from The Caretaker to Julee Cruise.
Continuing their prismatic dissection of daytime soap operas, David Lynch’s chief sound designer Dean Hurley and Celine Dion-worshipping enigma Romance slide into the darkest recesses of fantasy-based escapism on an immersive followup to last year’s ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’. While that album spotlighted the omnipresence of daytime tv re-runs and pervasive, endlessly-looped broadcasts, ‘River of Dreams’ examines the interior, mental imbalance sewn by obsessive fandom. As the pair explain, “…the same waters that harvest and transport buoyant dreams, often funnel into nightmarish, tumultuous oceans…”
Just as Twin Peaks eyeballed the grotesque energy bubbling beneath the surface of suburban America, ‘River of Dreams’ looks at the same phenomenon using the passing of time as a magnifying component. Lynch’s original series was tangled in 1980s and ’90s soap themes that have almost lost their relevance four decades later, and so the album’s sanded-down pads, gooey, hyper-emotional loops and detached vocal snippets satirise the past just as much as they idolise it.
‘My Heart Beats In Dreams’ is an apt example, steering the mood into a bleak windswept landscape scored by tempestuous whistling. In the background, the faintest outline of a beat – memories of a (wavey black & white) dancefloor refracted thru our shared cultural dreamscape. Heavy machinery (a logging saw?) whirrs into the frame, a Hollywood-ready low-end rumbles beneath. Stop – we’re back in the 1960s again, rousing from an underwater hallucination, tumbling through multiple timelines in a constant emotional flux.
On the closing track ‘Wake Up’, the pair use their faded loops to rotate us into the void for one last dance. A child calls out “it’s time,” and an eerily familiar VHS buzz serenades us into silence.