The Edison Electrics - Oneironautics (2012, self released) [english review]

One of the main reasons for making this blog was to promote artists and releases that escaped the attention even of the most alternative and sophisticated music media. Now if an album, after many listens, leaves a solid mark to our mental and emotional world, there is no choice but to make a presentation of it. The first and only album of the US band Edison Electrics, called Oneironautics, released in 2012, observes these two conditions: although it’s characterized by high quality and hence musical value, it hasn’t become more widely know.  It has been long time ago since I listened to an album with almost no flaws.

The man behind Edison Electrics is Dustin W. Warren, who usually uses the alias Godfrey At Large.  Warren has composed nearly the entire music and wrote the lyrics for the album, he also played all the keyboards and of course he undertook the vocals. But he is joined by a group of fine musicians, who manage to carry out his complex and multilevel artistic vision.

I described the vision presented in Oneironautics as complex and multilevel, because first of all we deal with a special blend of various musical styles. The first main ingredient is ambient music, most times in its beatless form, and the second one are the wonderful soulful vocals, reminiscent of great interpreters of the past such as Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers, but also of their worthy successor in our days, John Legend. The deepness and experimentation of ambient in one hand and the emotional directness of soul on the other, are enriched by new elements: psychedelic guitars, tribal percussion, horns that sometimes lean towards folk, such as flute, and sometimes  towards jazz, such as trumpet and saxophone, as well as cloudy and turbid samples, for example of the crowd at a beach  in Summer or of a departure of a plane. An associative flow of sounds, images and allusions characterized by the fragmentation of real experience. 

Generally speaking, the experiment pursued in this album is crowned with success, reminding us the sonic adventures of the last two Talk Talk albums. But here, the difficulties of an avant-garde approach are smoothed by the memorable soulful melodies, especially of the vocals.  

The first song of the album, titled In Between Two Dawns, will remind you of Richie Havens’ confessional expression and the next one, Wonder If She Knows, Nick Drake’s nostalgic psychedelia. A free jazz style dominates the track with the imaginative compound word Aromastalgia as its title, while Yekermo Sew, which borrows its name from the classic ethio-jazz composition by Mulatu Astatke, is the most uptempo track of the album, in which influences from African music are well assimilated.

In a lyrical level, Oneironautics seems to be a poetic narrative of a romance, which, we suppose, had a bad end or remained unfulfilled. Godfrey At Large himself comes to strengthen this conjecture, as he dedicates the album, not only to his relatives and friends, but also to a woman who was special to him (“The woman I used to love for breaking my heart and teaching something truly valuable about life and love and relationships “). As we can understand, the emotions are captured with a powerful directness, but the melodramatic exaggeration is avoided, both because of the experimental nature of the music, and the preponderant poetic and existential element.

The final track of the album is also called Oneironautics. This specific term is common in psychology, even more in sci-fi and means the interaction between two subjects who dream, the intersection of dreams. Indeed in the last song, the combination between ambient and soul music sets the perfect scene for a dreamlike encounter. Even though the two lovers didn’t make it in the real world, they meet in an imaginary and utopian dream world, achieving a harmony that defies the boundaries of place and time.

You have the great opportunity to download the whole Oneironautics album for free, with the blessings of the creators and participants:

Recently, Godfrey At Large collaborated with music producer Bleehouse, creating  the project HAUS. In Spring of 2014, HAUS released a very interesting mini album, entitled Holy Ghosts, which you also can also download for free.
Thanks to L. for her help with the translation.

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