This album was released as a limited edition on the South African Alter Ego label, and thus was difficult to obtain elsewhere. It is an almost-but-not-quite-complete collection of loose leaf pages from the Diary of Dreams itself, compiling tracks from compilations, limited editions and elsewhere. The remixes and alternate version vary from the impressive (Upgrade 03 of Exile opening with descending piano intro which leads neatly into the song itself) to the reasonable (the ‘extended’ version of O’Brother Sleep) through to the unnecessary, with three very minor reworks of songs from ‘One of 18 Angels’. Yes, they’re great songs, but they seem to be ‘token’ reworks, teaching the listener nothing new. Continue reading
As with ‘Freak Perfume’, ‘Nigeredo’ sees a 7-track appendage released a few months after the main album. Despite bearing a mere seven tracks, there appears to be a conceptual theme of sorts running through many of the songs, particularly frequent references to the number 5 (those into mythology can chew over that one as long as you like, but I’ve got reviews to write). The important thing is that this collection proves to be a somewhat more palatable affair following the excesses of the parent album.
Indeed, the EPs opening (title) track is probably the most confrontational track this project has produced during it’s current creative phase, weighty, metronomically precise percussion, some well placed guitars and the persistent whispers of ‘Menschfeind’ ensure the song is a memorable one. The pulsating electronic of the band’s early 00s era is revisited on ‘Haus Der Stille’ and ‘Triebsand’, whilst ‘Killers’ does the sinister vocal hiss and eerie piano thing better than ‘Rebellion’ ever managed. The overly drawn out ‘Pentaphobia’ is unnecessary, but otherwise this EP stands up well on it’s own. It is by no means rejects from the ‘Nigredo’ sessions.
This is a seven-track EP, though one consisting entirely of exclusive tracks rather than remixes (it thus may better be regarded as a mini-album). It is perhaps most notable for the three songs that stand as the some of the most club-friendly Diary of Dreams tracks to date. The klaxoning lead synth and urgent drumming ‘PaniK?’ is rather more attention grabbing than your average Dream sequence, whilst the sinister whispered repetition of ‘Never go, Never Let Me Go’ in ‘Soul Stripper’ works well as a refrain to hold the whole piece together.
The other dance-friendly track is the synthpoppy ‘The Scream’, though this song is fractionally weaker due to a synth lead that sounds just a little too cheesy to be in keeping with the sinister atmosphere of the rest of the CD. The remaining four tracks are lower-key and more typical of what we have come to expect of this project, although some well-structured melodic piano and synths help ‘Drama’ to stand out. The only weak track the album is the closing number ‘Monsters and Demons’, to dependent on electronic texture and overly-melodramatic vocals. The CD as a whole is still a quality product, by no means the ‘Freak Perfume’ rejects some may have expected, and hence should be picked up by anyone who’s enjoyed this bands more recent albums.
The first Diary of Dreams live album came largely due to fan demand, and it came at exactly the right time. This disc documents the 2005 ‘Nigredo’ tour, which saw the band replace the drum pads with acoustic drum and also saw Adrian Hates play a second guitar on certain songs, all of which contributes to an increasingly ‘live’ sound from a band that had often been accused of being over-reliant on a backing track when on stage. The versions of songs played here are still for the most part rooted in the original album recordings, but they do enough live to justify issuing a live CD such as this.
Despite the tour’s name, the setlist here features only two songs from ‘Nigredo’ itself, as well as the explosive title track from the subsequent ‘EP’ ‘MenschFeind’ which opens the set. It’s the previous album ‘Freak Perfume’ that features most strongly here, with one track from each of the previous four albums – the crowd-pleasing ‘Chemicals’ sandwiched by ‘Methusalem’ and ‘But The Wind Was Stronger’, two songs rarely featured in DoD setlists in recent years. It’s the two final songs that ultimately stand-out – a extended outro for ‘Traumtänzer’ to allow for an audience sing-along, followed by an piano version of ‘AmoK’ which works better than you might expect, proving the strength of the original song.
‘Nigredo’ sees a further stylistic shift for Diary of Dreams. With guitarist Gaun:A now working alongside Adrian Hates, this latest opus is concept album of sorts, based around a semi-fictitious Icelandic mythology. The sleeve notes provide a few clues as to the background behind the piece, although it may prove to be heavy going for all but the most devoted fans. In terms of music development, there has been a slight shift away from the blatantly danceable rhythms heard on the last few albums, moving back towards the poetically desolate keyboard atmospherics of early works. Continue reading
The follow-up to ‘One of 18 Angels’ had a lot to answer to, and in some respects it almost lives up to it’s predecessor. The album opener ‘Traum:A’ (how’s that for a bit of bi-lingual wordplay?) sees us straight back on familiar territory with the horror movie samples, eerie piano and cathedral-sized rhythms. From there it’s straight into ‘The Curse’, a pulsating electronic number, a (dis)missive from the tortured to his torturer and a surprisingly catchy song to boot. Continue reading
The very epitome of Diary of Dreams numerous achievements, ‘One of 18 Angels’ is an 11-track journey through a world built from the very darkest electro-gothic landscapes imaginable. Constantly lamenting the futility of our lives, questioning every aspect of our existence, this uber-gothic mope-fest succeeds because for once EVERY song makes a mark. There is no filler, no never-ending darkwave epics (which have sometimes worked in the past, but more often do not). Musically, the project has now perfected it’s use of electronic rhythms as the driving force, supporting by haunting keyboard textures and occasional use of guitar, the latter often switching from the reverb-heavy trad-goth style towards snarling power chords, an astute stylistic switch given the increasingly rhythmic nature of the music. Continue reading
The first Diary of Dreams compilation sums the most prominent ‘Moments of Bloom’ from the first four albums, but Adrian Hates was seemingly unwilling to put out an album without getting his hands dirty and has duly reworked two tracks from each album as well as providing four previously unreleased tracks. Whilst most DoD fans pick their own favourites, the tracks chosen for this collection seem like a sensible enough cross-section of the band’s work for date, featuring their two out-and-out anthems (Ex-ile and Retaliation) along with their most notable ‘epics’ (such as End of Flowers and But The Wind Was Stronger). Continue reading
The fourth Diary of Dreams album sees an expanded line-up, two songs in their native German tongue, and a tracklisting laden with twisted wordplay. Having realised their potential of ‘Bird Without Wings’, Adrian Hates and co now throw their assembled fanbase a curveball. The bands sound is still recognisable for what it is, but they’ve moved in a more electronic direction than before, elaborate keyboard arrangements, synthetic textures and delicate rhythms, the guitars still in evidence but less prominent in the mix than of many of the ‘Bird Without Wings’ tracks.
The albums cerebral nature means it does lack an anthem equal to ‘Retaliation’ or ‘Ex-ile’ (‘Methusalem’ comes closest), but it springs a fair few surprises along the way. The female and speech-synth voices in ‘(Ver)Gift(Et)?’, the softly-sung ‘Never’Freeze’ and the obligatory eight-minute epic ‘E.-Dead-Motion’ all do their thing with a degree of proficiency. The guitars do re-appear late in the album for ‘Wild’ and ‘You(-das)’, though these songs otherwise don’t rank as the albums strongest. Ultimately, this is an interesting album to listen to but in many respects it tries too hard and therefore falls slightly short.
‘Others Cry For Help, Like It Would Change Anything’, sings Adrian Hates at the start of the eight-minute plus album opener ‘Stimulation’, an awesomely expansive track that sets the scene for the strongest Diary of Dreams album so far. It’s the most guitar-heavy of the three albums to date, but also makes more use of electronic elements, both in terms of bassline and melody. Or to put it more succinctly, this album simply has more of everything. Continue reading