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Synth Album Review: "Miami" by Dream Shore

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

Dream Shore’s Miami is a sonic journey that is richly limned by a wide range of synth moods, tones and timbres and given colour by the well-constructed lyrics and impassioned vocals that fill the songs.

There is a rich diversity in the sonic palette of this album. Dream Shore creates lush soundscapes by intertwining synths that cross the sonic spectrum from crystalline glitter to gritty growl. He weaves these varied tones and timbres together in sonic tapestries that drawn the listener in and hold their ears. The addition of Dalton Bell’s guitar work on “Ocean Overdrive” also adds one more strand to the aural richness of Miami.

I’m also interested by the strength of the drums on Miami. They provide a backdrop of unique percussive textures that help to shape and guide the music on the album. They don’t overtake the mix, but they do provide a solid underpinning on which the other sonic elements rest.

Dream Shore’s vocals (as well as those of his guests E.M. Watson and Clap & Thunder) add emotional depth and weight to the music. Dream Shore can allow his voice to soar with strength or delicately caress, depending on the emotional content of the lyrics for each song. Either way, it is always full of expression.

The lyrics that Dream Shore has crafted on the album are thoughtful and expressive. There are moments of effective imagery that make the words vivid for me. I enjoy how Dream Shore finds a balance in picking the lyrics that suit what he wants to say without rambling or losing focus. It makes for a strong overall listening experience.

My Favourite Tracks Analyized

“Prolusion” starts off with a glowing wash of distorted synth that wriggles over a powerful bass line. A medium low, rising synth lifts triumphantly over the deep, rich synth chords that move in blocks below along with a light that glows and spins out above the music. It is an atmospheric, cinematic way to open the album that I think works well.

Lush synth chords with a slightly rough edge climb underneath the energetic melody carried on a shimmering, chiming synth to kick off “Another Time.” There’s a solidity to the drums and the bass as they add a medium tempo pulse. I especially like the delicate, drifting vocals on this song.

The drums keep pushing the track onward below the expressive vocal melody. A series of rough edged, slowly moving bass pulses are joined by a bright steel drum sound. before we return to that expressive, powerful vocal melody that has a tinge of darker feeling about it and again the shiny lead has a metallic positivity to it as it shimmers out.

This is a song about the struggles we face in life and how we have to move forward. The narrator encourages us not to try and hide or feel alone. However we are reminded we have a choice in the lines, “You alone can decide what will abide, once it has been made.” Again hope rises as the narrator says, “Don’t feel alone, erase what’s in your mind, a new day awaits you.”

“Conflict” comes into being with a rapidly shifting, dark bass line that has a thickness to it. The bass surges under a sweep of shivering, medium-low synth that moves in rapid angular patterns over the solid blows of the big drums. Airy, glowing synth floats in a delicate, ethereal breath over the deep drum and bass throb while round chords glide easily in support.

After a sweep of wind the aggressive, even harsh pulse of dark synth moves along with the beat of the drums that are steady and reverberant. Now the minor key, pained lead synth melody drifts in a slow sweep and the arp that revolves is shadowed under the slightly metallic wash of synth.

The pattern of broad, full synth is again joined by a sweep of air as rising clouds of pipe synth soar out, suffused with a glow that is a bit melancholy while the arpeggiating pattern of medium low synth slips along over a flow of air.

“Awakened” comes into being with a deep and faintly ominous pulse of deep, oscillating bass and a chest-thumping kick drum. A distorted, medium-high synth writhes and an electric guitar carries an arcing melody before a brassy synth calls out in a full voice through the track. The bright synth carries a melodic line that shines and leaps over the robotic lyrics. I am drawn to the cyberpunk quality of the robotic vocal.

A minor key vocal melody is joined by a bursting glow of metallic synth that cries out along with the electric guitar. The deep bass oscillates and the drums keep the music moving forward. The track breaks into a segment where a smooth flow of round synth notes over the shivering bass line and the full, elevated lead synth sings out a melody that is positive and uplifting over the bass and drum pulse.

There’s a contrast between despair and hope that forms a tension in the lyrics. The narrator talks of “an empty mind, leaves to bare, emptiness and sorrow” but reminds us that “the future’s here, another chance tomorrow.” We are encouraged to “seek between the lines of pure and sacred” because “for all we know, this may not be tainted.”

A hollow piping synth moves in waves as a bright, crystalline synth moves in a gently sparkling line as “Mesmerized” opens. The cut-glass synth climbs high over the music in a flickering melody that I enjoy for its fragility.

A synth that is reminiscent of a sax cries out in a reedy, lush voice over the smooth beat and bass throb underneath it. There’s something tremulous and full of yearning in the music. An elevated melodic line has a bright sparkle as it drifts through in a pattern that is suffused by pure light.

“Vision” starts off with deep, pulsing, oscillating synth that adds heft below the metallic glow of the synths. Wind sweeps through and Clap & Thunder’s powerful, emotive vocals call out over the heft below them. A smoothly throbbing synth pulse intertwines higher and lower parts while the drums and bass pulse slowly.

The rising, soaring vocal melody lifts along with glimmering higher synth and massive drums that fill the track behind it. The pained ache to the vocals pulls me in over the heartbeat and the swirling mists of sound that drift over the weight below them.

There’s a plea for a guiding hand in the lyrics of this song. The narrator asks “be my vision, be my guide, I’ll never walk away.” He talks about having his focus “taken in your hands, I’ll let you lead the way.”

He goes on to say, “look upon the other side, it’s right” and leaves the reminder that “when you sleep, remember it's all a dream.” He repeats the plea for a guide who will lead the way so he’ll be “free from all the others who have tried to harm me, hold me.”

Pizzicato strings add a smooth ripple of medium high notes as deep bass shifts below the strings to start off “Runaway” while synths flash through and the drums add a steady, bursting beat. A rising tide of synth fills the open spaces of the track below the strong, clear, expressive vocals that cry out above the steady drums.

Drifting voices interlock along with a hollow, glassy synth sound that dances in between the lyrics and the beats. I am enamoured of the growling, shredding guitar solo that arcs and flies, full of bright light and progressive energy.

Bursting, youthful energy and hope fill this song. The narrator talks about taking a “first class ticket” as he takes a “round trip back to the moon.” He talks about being a “big shot living on a dream.” I especially like the word play in the lyrics that talk about “the boy with the runaway dream, all over the world” in contrast with “the dream with the runaway girl, all over the world.”

Hope brims from the lyrics as he talks about how the sky is the limit on a “one stop visit, on a tour all over the world” with the runaway girl. I enjoy the words, “And the city with the big street lights, come round to inspire you?”

The song ends as he talks about “the girl with the runaway dream, thinking about you.”

“Closure” glides into life with gentle, lush synth that fills the track’s space with a caressing, slowly moving melody. The melody flows in waves through the track as the lyrics, softer and a little airy, drift as the oscillating pulse of synth grows under them. A shining synth chimes into the track, playing a twinkling melody that sparkles.

I enjoy the slightly hollow whistle-like synth as it carries a delicate pattern of notes out over the swirling background. A chiming, repeating pattern of light notes skips above the solid drum and bass pulse as the whistling synth drifts in a rising, falling pattern of sparkly notes over the powerful bass support.

A message of perseverance and progress fills the words. The song exhorts us to “head up, move on, lead on” and to “remember now who you are.” The narrator adds, “I know it’s hard, set and done” but says, “Time heals, let it fade, let it flow, let it go.”

Conclusion

Dream Shore has woven together a lush concoction of synth sounds, emotive vocals and thoughtful lyrics on Miami. His guests add more depth to the music and I enjoy the journey that he takes me on through music on the album. I hope we’ll hear more from him soon!

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