Review: Peel Dream Magazine - 'Modern Meta Physic'
Peel Dream Magazine is a band that hankers back to a time when you would listen to a radio late into the night hoping to hear your new favourite band or song.
There was a time when if you wanted to listen to new music the only option was the radio. Hours were spent each day finely tuning through the channels until you had either found what you were looking for, or had adjusted the dial enough that the sound was perfect. One show that you didn’t want to miss was the John Peel. The late Radio 1 DJ whose broadcasts defined what musical diversity was, and having eclectic tastes, meant. This was clearly a time that New York’s Peel Dream Magazine, and de-facto leader Joe Stevens, remember fondly, as their name is a part homage to Radio 1 legend.
The opening salvo of track, ‘Art Today’ especially, feel like Stereolab performing narco-lounge music. In the hazy mist of synths, there are some captivating melodies. The more you listen intently the more you get lots in its understated grandeur. The most interesting track on the album is ‘Wood Panelling’. Instead of being a ‘standard’ song, the bulk of it consists of cut-up radio broadcasts, some sporting, over a gentle backing track. It is reminiscent of when you’d switch between radio stations as a kid trying to find something to listen to. As ‘Wood Panelling’ progresses, you find yourself understanding less about its themes than you did at the start. Always a plus.
‘Fires’ is as delicate as it is exquisite. Filigree guitar riffs dance over synths and a gently strummed acoustic guitar. ‘Interiors’ has more bite to it than other tracks on Modern Meta Physic. The slightly harder synths and drumming really compliment Steven’s vocals. ‘Upper Body Calaesthetics’ is Eastern-tinged with sitars and tablas. Its hypnotic melodies work incredibly well with the every droning synths. The only downside is that its over as soon as it gets going. The album closes with the semi-instrumental ‘Don’t Pickup Slackers’ that incorporates the sound collage of ‘Wood Panelling’, but instead of jumping from sample-to-sample sticks with just one, adding a level of cohesion and narrative flow.
The real standout moments are when Peel Dream Magazine go off piste a bit. ‘Wood Paneling’, ‘Levitating Between 2 Chords’ and ‘Upper Body Calaesthetics’ are abstract in their composition and break up the more traditional songs. It hints that this isn’t a band just focused on verse/chorus/verse song-writing, and under the surface, they want to be more abstract and cerebral.
Peel Dream Magazine are a band that hankers back to a time when you would listen to a radio late into the night hoping to hear your new favourite band or song. Sometimes you’d wake up an remember something only to find out much later that it was a dream. At times ‘Modern Meta Physic’ feels like that song. Everything is slow, lurid and woozy, but there is something about it that stops you drifting off. This is an album that grows stronger with each play and slowly starts to take over your psyche.