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Dice - Dreamland CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.88 | 13 ratings

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4 stars On this 2000 release, DICE introduces the "dreamscene" series of generally shorter tracks that establish a more meditative mood in between the longer cuts. This is appropriate given the album title, but several subsequent albums perpetuate the "concept". It does serve to give the effort a more conceptual and weighty feel than its predecessors, but really the sound is pretty much intact: accessible space rock with equal measure of catchy tunes, clear if rough cut vocals, and adept soloing.

The album starts off with a DICE epic, "From the Darkness of the Sun", which is all about black holes, and perhaps whatever societal ills might symbolically result from the burning out of your neighbourhood "sun". While it helps the group stretch out in parts, it seems to fall into the trap of sounding angry that is a pitfall of other space rock bands. The next long cut, "Feelings in Dreamland", is far superior, with some of Henry Zscelletschky's best synths and good riffing by Nove on rhythm guitar, and some hot licks from Jager. The largely spoken break is particularly noteworthy as Nove stays on tune. "Under Candlelight" is the "ballad", and is simply gorgeous, with a very ELOYish introduction, expressive vocals and a sparkling guitar backing. "Black Dreams" shows how the morose can be handled without lapsing into hopelessness, and grafts 1980s new wave creatively onto the DICE DNA. "I Wanna Know" leaves the prog elements in the background in favour of a simplistic chorus, but it never sounds like that is the primary goal of Nove, which allows him to pull it off.

Among the albums shorter cuts we have two excellent offerings - "Train to Coma", like a "Trans Europe Express" for the dreamer, and the Andy Latimer tribute "Camels in Space", with its fluid lead guitar solos over spacey keys. "Other Candles" uses gently plucked guitars in the foreground, and the closer "Midnight Tango" has an almost raga like feel, within the parameters of space rock of course. The longest of these, "Five Minutes with Geli King", has some fine jams but also a little too much disturbing laughter.

While one could argue that DICE would have been lost in the pack had they been releasing in the 1970s, in the year 2000 they stood out for clinging to basic prog principles while crafting melodies that are the stuff of dreams.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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