Started in early-2015, the Oneiric Escapism branch of all-things A Lonely Ghost Burning offered something different, the intentions of the compilations varying from those of the counterparts. Here, the emphasis was on finding something sonically absorbing, and the artists considered seemed intent on spellbinding a listener instead of simply soundtracking a mood or moment. It was an intriguing prospect and a new slant to the project, highlighting artists whose music seeks to transport a listener. As is often the case with these compilations the title definitely fits. The element of transient transportation is very much the objective, and the objective is met. If you’re curious about the objectives elsewhere, you can explore more here.
Oneiric Escapism Vol.1 (20/2/2015)
The first in the newly created Oneiric Escapism series, this compilation takes a different route, while remaining just as curiously compelling. The fourteen songs showcased this time around are often sparse and ethereal in nature, carrying a distinct and frequently sublime calm. It’s certainly the case with Aphir‘s (previously featured by the project) haunting opener Delta and it’s a trend which continues with the likes of Your Ghostly Letter: Autumn by Your Schizophrenia, which offers foreign spoken word atop somber keys. Granted, I had no idea what was being said, but I found myself drifting off regardless. The majority of tracks here are low-key, dreamy soundscapes punctuated by piercing, affecting vocals, but the compilation has its ‘fuller’ moments. The most noticeably of these comes in the form of Seasurfer‘s Cloudjumping, my favourite track following Golden Fable’s gorgeous Avalanche. The former surges with the energy its title suggests, capturing whatever kind of sensation cloud-jumping might actually generate, and it stands out between Shisd‘s experimental, James Blake-like What I Mean and the gliding Elements by Visitor. On each of the aforementioned tracks, there’s a good amount to lose yourself in, and they often encourage it, possessing surreal and isolating qualities. This quality factors less so in the second half of the compilation, which fills things out slightly, sonically.
I listened to the compilation through my best set of headphones whilst doing some work for university and actually ended up getting a productive writing session done, which I’m pretty sure the compilation had something to do with. Considering I’m currently begrudgingly studying Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway I’d say that’s high praise. As a whole, Oneiric Escapism Vol.1 is an interesting and absorbing collection of songs, delivering on its promising title with fourteen tracks more than capable of cocooning and moving a listener. It’s the same kind of escape I find when I listen to This Will Destroy You, or Cliff Martinez’ Drive soundtrack, and the compilation is just as well selected as the latter, at times quite similar to one of my favourite film scores. Terminus‘ We Don’t Know reminded me greatly of Kavinsky’s Nightcall, stylish with substance, and when Zane Lowe was rescoring the movie a few months back he could have just as easily turned to the artists featured here instead of the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and The 1975. Granted, there are a few artists whose songs I didn’t find as effective (Ivory Towers, Ryoma Sakoh) but overall I’m impressed yet again, not that I expected anything else. I’d recommend exploring this new direction and meandering along the way – you can find the release below. Anyway, here’s to more of the same.
Oneiric Escapism Vol.2 (16/10/2015)
In a recent update to this ever-expanding and consistently complimenting post about A Lonely Ghost Burning I spoke about my job in a write-up of Beautiful Songwriting Vol.4 – the walk there every morning at least, anyway. This time round I’m going to end up talking about it again because I think it’s still relevant in some sort of way. I work a lot, be it mundane repetitive work for Sainsbury’s or stimulating university work, and I tend to keep busy outside of both commitments. What I like about my job, and what I like about my solitudinous study sessions, is that I get to listen to music. Music helps in both instances. Whether I’m picking products off shelves, or picking quotes from textbooks I have at least one earphone in, and lately, that earphone has been delivering the soothing sounds of Oneiric Escapism Vol.2, which is, at the time of writing, the latest in the projects growing catalogue.
When I’m studying there’s often a particular stylistic direction that I opt for musically, and it’s normally something quaint; something soft; something that isn’t going to distract or disturb; something restful to help me focus and something fitting of revision. Oneiric Escapism Vol.2, like its predecessor, ticks all of the above; it’s a relaxed ride at 10mph along dark evening roads under starlit skies. It’s the gently pulsating sound of space with something to say, adult lullabies with depth and a darker edge. It’s blissful whilst belatedly bold in terms of atmosphere, dripping in delicate style, never growing too loud or sonically distilled. Like Oneiric EscapismVol.1, it’s befitting of its title, a daydream dipped in dark matter. It seems made for quiet library corners or twilight walks home, for flitting between the night and the day, or between the pages of the Bukowski biography I’m reading for my dissertation. Like Bukowski (although his is often understated) there’s a grace, a hum of life which lends a glow to proceedings, keeping things purposefully pleasant (Rheya‘s Franchise) instead of mournfully melancholic and bleak. There’s a striking, sparkling, beauty to proceedings, and even when songs seem sparse they’re normally holding something more, embers happy to see the flames dwindle. atOlla’s Arctic Gazing is cool and collected – a drifting, ambient slice of tired, neon vocals and sparkling pockets of synth. It’s an early highlight, as is Kendra Lee Miller‘s Aurora, which plays out like a Carson McCullers novel – lovelorn, lonely, isolated, but gripping and charming nonetheless.
My housemate, who also shares that 4AM walk with me, is a keen fan of Lana Del Rey (real name Lizzy Grant), and I decided to show him CENO‘s Blinds Blame The Cold, which holds the seductive qualities of Grant’s music, sucking you in and leaving you pining. Needless to say, he liked it, and I liked it as well, more than any other track; maybe because of the artist it reminded me of, but also because there’s some magic to it, with the song carrying a vibrant, vivid sheen without showing it off, a shy peacock. Elsewhere New Shack‘s The Minotaur is captivating, balancing mousy vocals against a laid back, flickering retro backdrop, sweet in a different way to Blinds… and almost as good. Amber Maya‘s experimental Visitor was another track I liked and, as was the case with a few of the songs here, it reminded me of James Blake, delivering those same dulcet, ethereal tones that work so well with progressive – liquid instrumentals layered but almost minimally so. Rheya’s Franchise isn’t one of those Blake styled tracks, instead delightfully nostalgic with its choice of beats, almost harking back a few decades and giving it modern gloss. It works, as does Aela Kae‘s Told Me That, which is spellbinding in its stripped back approach, opaque and absorbing as it reclines and ribbons.
There’s a distinct lack of the louder tracks this time around, the full-bodied rushes delivered by Seasurfer’s Cloudjumping (which featured on Vol.1) are absent, but I quite liked that – it makes the compilation immensely streamlined, meaning there’s nothing to pull you out of the trance. With the second entry, the series seems to have decided on a set tone, whereas the first didn’t have that consistency. As a result, the songs here flow like water, from the opening electrifying pulse of Aurora to the closing, drowsy throb of Ocean. This is a collection which knows exactly how it wants to sound, and if you happen to like that sound then you’ve struck gold with the twelve selections on offer. I’m listening to Oneiric Escapism Vol.2 whilst writing this and, with its sonic guidance, I’ve managed to write more than I’d planned to, though I can’t say I mind too much. The compilation has this isolating sort of quality, played loud enough it became the only thing there aside from the keyboard and my laptop screen, and with it, I feel in a bubble almost. As long as there isn’t a fire nearby I’m alright with that. It’s easy to space out with the songs here, and it’s also easy to see the darker vibe they sometimes benefit from. Things throughout are haunting yet intriguing (as is Gillian Ho’s artwork, which I also liked), but its uncanny nature is overshadowed by the shadows; that calm unknown which is somehow pleasingly familiar and calming in its claustrophobic, slightly unnerving nature. It’s the soundtrack to dark mornings, but there’s also songs there for the post-work walk home, the sigh and sprawl onto the sofa as the dream-pop of Aiko Aiko‘s Hunt leads into Maya’s Visitor.
I feel like I’m limiting the compilations ‘usefulness’ in a sense, restricting it to set scenarios or environments, and that’s unfair – it’s just that lately the library, work, and the cushions on my sofa are the only places I’ve frequented. Oneiric Escapism Vol.2 is suitable for anything you see fit, and it might compliment wherever / whatever that is pretty damn well. Some people revise to Meshuggah, some give My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a spin to set them at ease, and someone reading this should probably give the compilation a chance in whatever place it might fit. I’m certainly more than happy to stick with Oneiric Escapism Vol.2 for now as I go about day to day life, because even at its infrequent worst it’s an interesting listen, while at its frequent best it’s intoxicating, to say the least.
Oneiric Escapism Vol.3 (21/12/2016)
It’s ten days until 2017 starts, and I’m thinking about 2016. I’m thinking that I’m ending the year the same way I ended 2015, scraping by and stacking shelves in a supermarket to cover rent. I’m thinking that that’s alright. A great deal has happened in-between, and sometimes things don’t need to change drastically in order for progress to be made. It’s been fourteen months since I sat down to write about Oneiric Escapism Vol.2 and my thoughts about that compilation haven’t changed. A Lonely Ghost Burning, as a project, isn’t necessarily changing significantly either, but changes haven’t really been needed. Over the last year, the developing project has settled comfortably into a compelling niche, sporadically offering excellent compilations within three strands. Oneiric Escapism Vol.3 is the third release in the shortest of the strands and, as its predecessor was fourteen months ago, it proves to be a breath of fresh air for somebody who doesn’t normally seek out music of this nature (myself). It’s a release which toes the line between reality and fantasy, experimental and innovative while shining a spotlight on artists just below the radar. There are twelve artists to discover and explore here and explore I did, like an astronaut casting glances outwards into a brand new cosmos.
Oneiric Escapism Vol.3 is immersive immediately, the lush production of Todavia‘s Stay making for an excellent opener as the song unfurls beautifully. It’s a track which, lyrically, falls heavy and harrowed, but there persists a sense of weightlessness throughout, gravity gradually loosening its hold. The ambiance pervades a sense of transience as vocalist/guitarist /drummer Rhyan Riesgo repeats the line ‘You know I’ll be whatever you want me to be’ as the song dances towards its end. It’s as good as the compilation gets, but there’s plenty more to enjoy elsewhere, including the Blakian (James, not William) pulse of einarIndra‘s Thoughts, which is a highlight. It’s space populated with flickering lights, the ebb, and flow of synths like waves rolling upon a beach as the long-awaited sun rise sits stagnant on the horizon. It’s evening music blending into an early morning, melancholic and serene in scintillating quantity, and is followed by Desert Dollhouse‘s Gaze – which is listed as a demo yet feels very close to a final product. At six and a half minutes it’s expansive and ethereal, silence bleeding into cosmic cracks during a twilight trek across a sparse soundscape slowly developing – haunting as it progresses. A much more optimistic track is contributed by Dæva shortly after, but Dream was too dreamy for my tastes, the summery instrumentals feeling almost excessively exuberant. It made for the only song on Oneiric Escapism Vol.3 which didn’t quite facilitate an ‘escape’ but. as the shortest song, it also seemed to flit by, followed by LAANDS contributed doomsday soundtrack – Wide Awake. The compilation later ends with potentially it’s most interesting track, ‘word soul’ selection Rooms, from South African artist SOLR. A bleak, nightmarish mesh of beats echo beneath vocals which delve deep into a lonely darkness, chiming amidst the emptiness. I watched Arrival last week (Amy Adams movie), and it reminded me of the aliens in that film, drifting through pale clouds, not quite visible yet not quite invisible either, the use of thick bass accentuating their movements through the smog. Just like that film was, Rooms is a thought-piece, and it certainly succeeds as one.
As has been the trend with the last few ALGB releases, Oneiric Escapism Vol.3 is much more consistent sonically, lacking the more dynamic entries which altered the flow of earlier entries (see Cloudjumping as mentioned in my Vol.2 write-up). Dream breaks the spell here, but only for a brief period and, after that, the compilation drifts towards its conclusion, just as it was likely intended to, songs similar in substance flowing nicely into each other. There’s a clear focus here, and the objective has been met. Taken in one sitting, Vol.3 is mesmeric, and dissecting it in terms of its individual components reveals a number of artists well worth exploring further. One such artist would be I Am Alice, whose track Ashes repeatedly struck me as I ran through the songs on here. It’s a complex and absorbing selection, experimental with the way in which it blends field samples, electronica, and folk vocals which would likely prove enthralling acapella – “caught me scattering the ashes of a dying star / he said I don’t care what you’ve done but tell me who you are.” On a compilation which seems to look upwards for inspiration, it’s fitting that it’s best picks are those which stretch towards the stratosphere. There are several songs on here which seem determined to.