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Dredg - El Cielo (Cover Artwork)

Dredg

Dredg: El CieloEl Cielo (2002)
Universal Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: relay1112relay1112
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I devoured Dredg's El Cielo. I poured through every second of the CD any chance I got. Unfortunately I could only take it second-by-second, and found myself disappointed that I couldn't swallow it whole, be completely enveloped by every minute of this CD at once. And that would be just about my o.
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I devoured Dredg's El Cielo. I poured through every second of the CD any chance I got. Unfortunately I could only take it second-by-second, and found myself disappointed that I couldn't swallow it whole, be completely enveloped by every minute of this CD at once. And that would be just about my only frustration with the disc.

In contrast with my desire to experience the entire album instantaneously, bleeding it dry in one fell swoop, El Cielo is more of a methodical bloodletting. Singer Gavin Hayes has a love-affair with Thom Yorke's (Radiohead) trademark falsetto throughout most of the album. His voice is celestial, as the name of the CD implies. Throughout the album, Gavin's voice soars miles above the flowing music, but by no means does he hog the spotlight; he has incredible instrumentalists crafting layers of sedimentary music beneath him. The drums are off-time, creative, monumental and boast cymbal work unparalleled since Modest Mouse's The Lonesome Crowded West.. The guitars weave together to form complex melodies to enshrine the bass, rarely an overpowering instrument but prominent on El Cielo.

Dredg have been hailed as all sorts of absurd things (nu-metal gods, for example). They are not nu-metal. Think Tool combined with Radiohead. They have the dark, distortion-driven tendencies of Tool, but the despair and spaciousness of Radiohead.

El Cielo is a concept album consisting of a few "movements." These "movements" are separated by five "Brushstrokes." These are shorter interludes, mostly instrumental, and serve as transitions between the varying moods of each "movement." The underlying concept of the album is that of "sleep paralysis." Lots of terms in quotes, I know, but this is "art-rock." Shit, I did it again. Anyway, the entire point of the album, "sleep paralysis", is highlighted in the CD pamphlet; every song is based on a different letter presented in the booklet. The letters are terrifying, and give a real insight into this little-known affliction. It's incredibly interesting; the booklet alone is worth the price for the CD.

The first real (non-Brushstroke) track, "Same Ol' Road", is a moving song with drum-and-base verses, a floating guitar part, and a weightless chorus. "We must march on, though we bleed, we must march on." The album is summed up in one line. Track three, "Sanzen", is another example of Gavin's weightless choruses. Though the verse is hardly memorable, the chorus alone makes the song an instant work of art. "I'm Sorry but It's Over" is a desolate landscape. A distant guitar part soars to peaks and cuts valleys throughout most of the song, only to build up in grand fashion to another chorus that floats miles above the listener. "Convalescent" is about as poppy as the album gets, yet the subject matter screams of the isolation that a victim of sleep paralysis must feel; "Maybe you've never seen it, maybe you've never been through it, it's the only way to understand it." Exotically distorted vocals kick off "Eighteen People Living in Harmony", and the staccato verse contrasts sharply with the flowing chorus. Some tastefully placed orchestration adorns the bridge. "Scissor Lock", despite having a really cool song title, is about as solemn as the record gets. Gavin sounds as if he's singing in a forest, and this is the first time he mentions the subject of the record directly.

"Whoa Is Me" is off-time and somewhat quirky. Omnipresent, the distortion-driven, flying chorus bores its way into the heart and brain. The final track, "The Canyon Behind Her", is a six-plus minute opus, driven at times by piano, at times by power chords. It ranges from the serene to the disturbed to the chaotic, much like the rest of the album or the victim of sleep paralysis. It's triumphant and soaring, and late in the song, the echo effect present ever-so-slightly on Gavin's vocals throughout the record is maxed out, as if he really were singing in a deep canyon. That is a feeling that exists in the caverns of the brain for most of the record, and here it is flung to the forefront. "Does anyone else feel this way?" Chanting monks join Gavin for the final chorus, and continue in solitude to finish off the song and the album. It's a peaceful ending to a chaotic record; the ever-plagued victim of sleep paralysis is finally able to achieve sleep without the fear, the evil presence; this is a resolution where resolutions are expected least. The hopelessness established throughout most of the record is put to rest.

The record is sweeping in effect, thanks in no small part to extremely talented musicians and producers. The production could not be more attuned to the mood of the album; at times it sounds peaceful; at others, it is restless, chaotic. The producers (a few were employed to create variation in the record) must have read up a lot on sleep paralysis. Though the lyrics can sound flat and uninspired at times, having a concrete subject for the entire album keeps them on track. Also, instrumental and vocal moods this deep can mask any lyrical missteps. Even a ten page review couldn't contain this record; El Cielo is an essential addition to any music lover's collection. Just turn off the lights, press play, and make sure you don't fall asleep.

Vocals - 9.1
Instrumentation - 8.9
Production - 9.3
Cover Art/Booklet - 10.0

Overall score (not an average): 9.1

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Dredg - Catch Without ArmsThe Clash - London CallingNOFX - The DeclineMillencolin - Pennybridge PioneersRancid - ... And Out Come The WolvesRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeOperation Ivy - Operation IvyDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeThe Get Up Kids - Something To Write Home AboutAlkaline Trio - Good Mourning

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (March 23, 2003)

I saw these guys last night on Snocore in Philly without knowing anything about them. From what I heard, I was getting ready for a huge snoozefest for their set. While their music is far from something that makes you want to move around, it really is awesome. Their music is epic and really creative. They implement things like shovels, saws, and vocals through a trumpet into their live show. it's really cool

relay1112 (March 20, 2003)

hahaha, good try. you need to read a little less into my review... you just come off sounding sexually frustrated. First, I don't need a thesaurus to write a review, second I'm sorry you can't swallow my writing, maybe I should tone it down a bit for you, third, I wrote the review in 15-20 minutes, probably less than others spend on shitty reviews.

as for the nerdy fat kid in english class bit, I'm actually skinny and cooler than you, haha. I'd probably still skew your curve though... it's not hard in a basic english class. I hope you've enjoyed pretending you won until you read this, sorry I had to burst your bubble. go back to the hole you came from if you only come out to get groceries and feed your insecurity.

Anonymous (March 19, 2003)

You were disappointed you couldn't swallow it whole? Oooook. Sounds like someone is reading a little too much into this cd. It's called projecting, you perv. People hear what they want to hear and apparently what you heard was the village people. Did you have an erection the entire time you listened to this cd? Seriously dude you are fucking weird. Reading this made me feel dirty. Put the thesaurus down and quit talking like someone on Dawson’s creek. Don't know if you know this or not, but this website is not an audition for rolling stone. So if you make your shit really wordy nobody is going to give you a job at spin. Besides, that takes effort and you're giving the youth of today a bad name. You're like that nerdy fat kid in English class that totally fucks up the curve. Hey Ayn Rand, go fuck yourself.
twat

Anonymous (March 19, 2003)

whoops,

twat

Anonymous (March 19, 2003)

You were disappointed you couldn't swallow it whole? Oooook. Sounds like someone is reading a little too much into this cd. It's called projecting, you perv. People hear what they want to hear and apparently what you heard was the village people. Did you have an erection the entire time you listened to this cd? Seriously dude you are fucking weird. Reading this made me feel dirty. Put the thesaurus down and quit talking like someone on Dawson’s creek. Don't know if you know this or not, but this website is not an audition for rolling stone. So if you make your shit really wordy nobody is going to give you a job at spin. Besides, that takes effort and you're giving the youth of today a bad name. You're like that nerdy fat kid in English class that totally fucks up the curve. Hey Ayn Rand, go fuck yourself.

Anonymous (March 18, 2003)

YES ONE LONG SONG ITS BEEN SAID BY ME. i understand the term concept album and consistency and all of that bullshit but you cant make one long song when the song isnt good to begin with. very few parts caught my attention.. and nothing worth proclaiming holiness about.

It's called a musical "experiance" something that has been long gone forgotten in today's music scene.

Anonymous (March 18, 2003)

Alright, who let James Lipton start writing reviews?

CaptainCrunch (March 17, 2003)

This CD is so good....incredible.

I listened to it last night, and it got into my mind. I need to listen to it like 30 more times.

relay1112 (March 16, 2003)

that's your personal opinion. I happen to think the music is great, and I'm obviously not alone.

As for the 'pretentious' nature of this review, previous to buying the album I read about ten reviews of it. On at least two of the websites, they were classified as "nu-metal" or close to it. There's nothing pretentious about saying it's wrong, and the statement served more as an introduction to my description of the music than anything else. I'm sorry if it bothered you.

Anonymous (March 16, 2003)

its hard to ignore the pretentious tone of this review, and it bothers me. who said they were nu metal gods? i saw a band at sno core the other day that had very few catchy parts in the one long song they had.

YES ONE LONG SONG ITS BEEN SAID BY ME. i understand the term concept album and consistency and all of that bullshit but you cant make one long song when the song isnt good to begin with. very few parts caught my attention.. and nothing worth proclaiming holiness about.

Anonymous (March 16, 2003)

i love their first album "leitmotif"
but this new cd of them ...
it's very disappointing

abileneINlove (March 15, 2003)

I haven't yet heard a worse band with these intentions.

Anonymous (March 15, 2003)

People who bitch about this are the ones who aren't used to the idea of a "concept album".

These guys are great. I saw them tonight on Snocore and they were incredible.

relay1112 (March 14, 2003)

Fuckin a, hate to post again, but...

I review the cover art because it's a part of the experience of a CD. Poor cover art can detract from an album's effect just as great artwork can enhance it. It's especially important on this CD because it includes the booklet, which explains the point of the concept album.

Another note: I've heard lots of people complain about all the songs "sounding the same." Well this, unlike most CDs out there, is truly an ALBUM. Most artists put out collections of songs, but Dredg has been able to establish a consistency between all their songs despite changes of moods and styles. Just a thought.

relay1112 (March 14, 2003)

"$10 says the the reviewer is an english major"

Compliment or sarcastic? Unfortunately I'm in high school... Maybe if I were an English major I'd be able to tell what you meant.

And I saw the "whoever likes dredg are fagz!!1!" argument coming... It's just hard to ignore music this convincing, no matter its genre.

relay1112 (March 14, 2003)

My apologies... I don't want to waste space of the review with the rating system and I don't get here in time to post it before you guys.

10.0 - Flawless
9.5-9.9 – Nearly perfect
9.0-9.4 – Essential
8.5-8.9 – Spectacular
8.0-8.4 – Recommended
7.5-7.9 – Solid
7.0-7.4 – Impressive, but not without its flaws
6.5-6.9 – A consistent album with more than a few flaws
6.0-6.4 – Enjoyable
5.5-5.9 – Better than average, not many standout qualities
5.0-5.4 – Nothing special, but nice enough
4.0-4.9 – Listenable; only a few enjoyable moments
3.0-3.9 – Not worth the price
2.0-2.9 – Terrifying
1.0-1.9 – Pitiful
0.1-0.9 – Redefines awful
0.0 – Avoid it like the plague

Anonymous (March 14, 2003)

abelineinlove

weren't you the one who did the cursive review by talking almost solely about Conor? id stop criticizing if i were you.

Anonymous (March 14, 2003)

ive always hated these guys name but they are a great band. cheesy live, with little pieces of trees and shit onstage, but they are awesome musicians.

Anonymous (March 14, 2003)

$10 says the the reviewer is an english major

Anonymous (March 14, 2003)

Bands that think they're clever for spelling words wrong in their names need to be dragged out into the middle of a busy freeway and shot.

abileneINlove (March 14, 2003)

people. who. like. this. probably. also. type. like. this. in. really. small. font.

By the way, this band is horrible. It is disgustingly derivative. Next.

Anonymous (March 14, 2003)

that website really pissed me off and i cant find any mp3s to check em out. where on the web can i get some (dont have access to kazaa etc)?

insinceredave (March 14, 2003)

what a great scoring system!

insincere dave

Anonymous (March 14, 2003)

i fall asleep (in a good way) to this album all the time. And for the record, i hate radiohead, but really dig this. I dont know how to label music anymore after i told my friend this was still punk rock for me. What is prog rock, i dont care, im not a big art rock pretentious airy brit crap fan, but this is really moving and rocking. He should rate the album cover just cause this isnt the cover thats shipped anymore, and this ones much better. "the canyon behind her" is epic, like wookie han solo shooting first epic.

wyzo

Anonymous (March 14, 2003)

You rated the album cover? What does that have to do with the music? This band sucks.

maverick (March 14, 2003)

I've had this disc for some time and it's only managed to get a few spins in my CD player. Each cursory listen comes up with the same basic conclusion - Radiohead meets Tool. Maybe this review will convince me to pop it in a few more times to really absorb all the nuances...

-Scott

Anonymous (March 14, 2003)

One of the best reviews in a while. Dredg aren't "punk" but this review is a lot better than most of the ones on here.

Dredg is an excellant band, that whole CD is one giant experiance. I think these guy's are "it" and somewhere down the line, bands will be saying one of their influences were Dredg.

This score goes for the reviewer and the band.

adam (March 14, 2003)

Dude, how exactly do your metrics work in rating albums? For example, what's the difference in production between a 9.1 and, oh... say 9.3?

I'm not criticizing as much as I'm curious. That's quite a precise quantification of the record.

adam

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