Robert Miles – Dreamland

Robert Miles’ 1996 album is a set of upbeat, melodic trance cuts. These are targeted to a mainstream dance audience, and are filled with catchy melodies. These tunes sound great at the club, but are equally at home at the dance floor as the are in the chill-out room.

Miles uses piano prominently in many of the cuts, along with synth strings and pads, drums and synth bass. Vocals are featured on a few cuts, but the focus is on the music, rather than vocals or lyrics.

Miles is an expert at taking simple material and shaping and extending it into extended cuts. He uses basic materials and uses them tastefully and effectively. Most of the cuts are over 5 minutes, but he builds and releases tension through crescendos and decrescendos, and by dropping instruments in and out.

Children, the first cut on the album, opens the album on a high note. Children starts with storm sounds, and then a piano melody emerges as if out of the clouds. This cut combines influences as varied as new age and trance. If you’ve heard this cut, you’ll find that it’s very representative of Miles’ style. This cut is a great tune for driving, because it takes you on a musical journey.

The second cut, Fable, is marred somewhat by its slightly annoying lyrics. If you look beyond that, though, it is similar in style to Children.

Landscape is a hypnotic cut. It mixes in strange ambient sounds, along with a resonant sequenced ostinato. A one-finger piano melody joins in. Then, about ninety seconds into the track, a synth bass comes in, along with a trance drums. The piano melody returns, interlacing with the bass, and accompanied by string textures.

Another great cut is in my dreams. It meanders along with synth pads and a simple piano melody for the first minute. Then it turns into a dance tune with the addition of some techno drums and a synth bass.

One and One is a straight ahead song, but it fits perfectly in the context of the album because it uses sounds and similar arrangements. The song has decent lyrics, reflecting on the idea that two people can go through anything and still be like one, whether they are together or apart. Unrelently upbeat, this songe makes me want to gget up and clean my house, instead of sitting on my ass!

Two remixes are included on the album. The first is a reworking of Fable. It cuts out the cloying vocals, and focuses on the melodies. The result is a mix closer to Children. It is mellow and upbeat, and turns this tune into a great cut. The second remix is of children. This remix is actually shorter than the original, but changes things around enough to sound like a reprise rather than a rehash.

Dreamland doesn’t surprise you or place demands on you. Instead, its upbeat melodies will lift you up and take you along if you let them.

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