To Dream of Silence, featuring Jeff Reilly both as composer and bass clarinetist, and including one new work by Christos Hatzis, defies easy categorization. The music was inspired by a series of dreams, described in brief prose poems that are narrated as part of the tracks. There is no obvious rhythmic/melodic reference between the words and Reilly’s music, which is often gauzy background harmony supporting rhythmic melodic fragments played by Reilly and punctuated by bells and other percussion. The notes mention accompanying “sound sculptures,” the work of blacksmith John Little. It isn’t clear where Reilly’s music leaves off and the sound sculptures pick up, but perhaps it doesn’t matter.
The work on this disc is highly listenable, and the narrative of the dreams is cryptic enough to grab my interest. I’m unsure whether I’d prefer to simply read the narration, though I am sincerely put off by the announcements of the dream titles, which distract from rather than enhance the music. Your Dark Beauty is rife with Freudian overtones. Eighty Steps, Endless Chambers, and Food for a Soul are dreams that seem to conjure a child’s memories of his home, from a variety of perspectives. Taken together, the series verges on nightmare, with a particular fixation with death. That’s not to say there is only terror; there is some serenity, but unease overrides. What does one imagine Fishing to mean, when what one hooks is an angel?
Reilly, as performer of his own works, creates curious and beautiful effects within a mist of studio-produced sounds. In Hatzis’ Extreme Unction the production is cleaner and the narrative element is entirely musical. This remarkably beautiful elegy for the composer Gustav Ciamaga fits in well with the sombre tone of the disc.