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Paul Marcano and Light Dreams
10, 001 Dreams
Favourite Album Reviews
It seems that having paid out more than enough to buy a decent sized car through the years on original and reissues of the psychedelic music of my youth, that in 1982 Canadian Paul Marcano made the album I’ve been searching for all these years to satisfy my craving for the British strain of pop-psych. And I missed it completely.
There is quite a story behind ’10,001 Dreams’ which doesn’t need repeating here as it’s already out there, but basically Marcano as part of a band called LightDreams self-released an album, ‘Islands in Space’, in 1981, which has been described as cosmic folk and which reached only a very limited audience. A year later and with Marcano sharing billing with LightDreams a new set of songs was released as’10,001 Dreams’, a limited edition cassette only issue. Not surprisingly that too passed me by. Just the fact that it was cassette only would have prevented me from making a purchase as cassettes to me were good for one thing only - opening up the possibility of choosing your own music to play in the car.
Now along with Spanish re-issue label Guerssen Records, the fantastically named Got Kinda Lost label has remastered ’10,001 Dreams’ and made it available on CD and double vinyl. These words are being written as the CD edition is playing. The vinyl adds the fourteen minute ‘Primordial Therapy’ to the nine songs on the CD, which is reason enough to put in an order for that as soon as time allows.
Where can you start describing an album as complex yet as accessible as ’10,001 Dreams’? Since 2012 the UK’s most prolific yet under-rated musician/author/ filmmaker Chris Wade has been releasing albums of his own unique take on pysch/prog/folk under the Dodson & Fogg banner, which although having one eye firmly focused on the classic sounds of the past sounded totally contemporary. There are times when listening to ’10,001 Dreams’ that Wade comes to mind. Marcano explores 60’s pyschedelia more deeply than Wade has and on ’10,001 Dreams’ takes Wade-type guitar wig-outs a stage further. There’s less of Wade’s folk tendencies but both artists share the talent to make home-made yet strangely hi-fi sounding fascinating soundscapes; Wade has a tendency to reign in his creations and therefore makes shorter pieces. At times the listener feels that Wade fades some of his songs just at the point where they are taking off; that’s no criticism just an indication that you don’t want to leave the place he’s taken you just yet. Marcano lets his music flow on so the pieces of music are given chance to develop, and even though the opening title cut is nearly fourteen minutes long there’s not a second that’s wasted or where the listener thinks “next, please!” Like Wade’s music the songs are so well structured that they are irresistible.
While ’10,001 Dreams’ is so obviously influenced by 60’s psychedelia and for those who heard it on its original release in 1982 it must have sounded so out of time, today it sounds totally contemporary. The title track opens with panned guitar, immediately finding a place in the heart of any 60’s psych-pop fan. Marcano’s vocals are floating somewhere deep in the mix while this wall of melodic guitars dart from channel to channel (‘10,001 Dreams’ is, like many psych albums, best appreciated on headphones and listened to alone where you can drink in all the sounds). The vocals eventually become clearer but not before the ears have been massaged by some of the most inspiring electric guitar we’ve heard since, well, the last Dodson & Fogg album actually. Fourteen minutes and the song doesn’t outstay its welcome, which is no mean feat.
‘Steam 111’ is one of the songs that is shorn of Marcano’s vocals but when the guitar playing is as inventive as that displayed on this piece they are not really missed. At just under six minutes it’s one of the shorter songs on the album but the different layers that Marcano brings to the track again keep the listener interested for the duration. Panning again features heavily towards the end of the track, and it’s another of those soundscapes that take you to wherever you choose to go.
‘Everyone Grows and Grows’ finds Marcano inject his psychedelia with more poppier leanings. It’s a dreamy little trip through ’67 and recalls Pink Floyd as much as it does the other pop-psych bands of the era. It would have been termed experimental way back then, but now it just sounds like a lost classic from those golden days. It really is a little classic. ‘Visual Breakfast’ follows and with its driving bass buried under shimmering guitars it again recalls Pink Floyd. It is maybe a couple of years down the line from the previous song but the influence is obvious. This particular soundscape twists and turns many times with its gentle, relaxing lead guitar lines before the vocals appear at around the four-minute mark when Marcano suddenly takes the song into another direction totally. It develops into a jaunty pop/rock song, the vocals to the fore in the mix for once before the panning returns with more shimmering guitar work. Then, without noticing the joins, a Floyd-like ballad emerges complete with what sounds like a bird fluttering between your ears. At almost eleven minutes again there’s not a second wasted and so much ground covered.
Without wishing to cover the album song-by-song mention has to be made of ‘Who Is The One’, another dream set to music, Marcano’s vocals are again deep in the mix, those guitars both gentle and shimmering panning from ear to ear while that driving bass makes another appearance.
‘In Memory of Being Here’ is at twenty-three minutes the longest song on ‘10,001 Dreams’ but is really a suite of six songs segued together; as most of the other tracks on the album go through so many changes and by now you’ve come to expect the unexpected from Paul Marcano it’s no great surprise that he’s created a piece of this length so he can expand even further on his vision. It could be argued that sections like the synth-filled ‘Subtle Arrival’ do notreally add much to the journey and are certainly less essential listening than most of the rest of the album, but as that piece segues into another instrumental section, ‘Something Out of Nothing’, it begins to make more sense. There are some beautiful sounds in there, not always conventional but all the more interesting for that.
There will likely be long essays written about every track on this album, but it doesn’t really matter how deep each individual goes into each song or really what Paul Marcano’s original idea was. The simple fact is that in 1982 Marcano made one of the best psychedelic albums that has ever been produced. Its heart beats in the mid-sixties but it sounds so fresh and relevant today. Maybe even more so than it would have then; one can only guess what effect it would have had on the record-buying teenagers of 1982 had they heard it then.
Praise to Got Kinda Lost records for making this lost classic available once more. We can only hope that it reaches more ears this time
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Got Kinda Lost
In our 'Re: View' section, in which our writers look back at albums from the past, Malcolm Carter finds essential the reissue of Canadian Paul Marcano’s 1982 cassette only psychedelic masterpiece which has finally been released on CD and double vinyl
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