We now get the part where we look at the Diary of Dreams that sit outside the canon of studio releases. They never issued a conventional Best-Of CD – there was an awkward MP3/stream-only lash-up issued in 2010 under the name of A Collection Of, drawing from their 00s material, but this mish-mash of album, single and live versions is of little value today.
More interesting is 1999’s Moments of Bloom, which contains two ‘updated’ versions of songs from each of the first four albums, plus four exclusive tracks. Aside from serving as a relic of their early works, it also remains the only physical release of their 1990s songs in the USA. The rework aspect means there’s at least something more interesting to discuss than ‘Were the right tracks chosen?’ (A: Mostly). For the most part, the songs follow the line of the originals, subtle changes in the mixing allied with either extended intros (End of Flowers, Ex-ile) or revised guitar and keyboard parts (Retaliation, But The Wind Was Stronger).
The two tracks from ‘Cholymelan’ receive more radical overhauls, befitting the more rhythmic electronic sound that the band was moving towards. It’s even odds whether you prefer these versions over the originals, but it’s still the quickest access point to part of the bands history that’s otherwise been forgotten. The four news songs, as with most ‘extras’ before and since, are not essential listening, proving to be lengthy and somewhat ponderous. The exception is Reality of Mine, with is a kind of final salute for their trad-goth roots before the synths took over for the next decade.
For those of your who actually read those ‘Singles and Version’ bits and are wondering how to obtain all those long-lost limited editions, theirs is a partial shortcut thanks to the two Dream Collector ‘bits’n’pieces’ compilations. Neither of these amounts to a completion of everything that wasn’t on a core studio album, but they’re still useful for filling in the most critical gaps, including some I haven’t yet covered, namely alternate versions and exclusive songs found on various artists samplers.
Dream Collector I focuses on the One of 18 Angels/Freak Perfume era. Aside from single B-sides and limited edition extras previously covered, there are alternate versions of album tracks like “Chemicals” and “People Watcher”, though these are only slightly different to the originals. There’s also a few songs you won’t hear outside of some long-forgotten samplers, including something so rare as to be unique – a cover version.
It might be an instrumental, but their take on Vangelis’ End Titles for Blade Runner, here known as Blade Runner 2001 is perfect match for Diary of Dreams in their most electronic era. Countless musicians have attempted to turn this iconic soundtrack into a dancefloor smash, but only Diary Of Dreams understood the underlying darkness that sets it apart in the world of film music.
Dream Collector II collects tracks from 2004 to 2011. It’s mainly alternate version of album tracks, with a bias towards the ‘dance beat’ versions where one was available. Many of the tracks are marked as “DCII Edit”, with a few seconds lopped off in most cases. It’s a curious decision at the CD version clocks in under 70 minutes, so there was easily space for the full versions – rights issues forcing token edits shouldn’t be a factor when the frontman own his band’s label.
There’s also a few songs and versions not heard elsewhere, including a curious broken-beat version of “Giftraum” and also “Out Of My World”, a cynical, dismissive exclusive that ranks as one of the strongest non-album songs. The lack of a must-have rarity and the varied quality of the source material does make this the lesser of the two DC discs, though.
There is one release that really makes a go of the whole ‘alternate versions of existing songs’ – 2012’s The Anatomy of Silence. It’s Diary of Dreams – Unplugged. Acoustic versions of songs written for electric guitars and synths are always a risk – you can’t behind production trickery, so they’re a true test of how good certain songs are. Isolated songs had previously been performed in the manner on stage as one-offs, so it was not a totally new idea for them.
However, the members of the band decided with their classical training, it was worth expanding this concept to a full album. Acoustic instruments only. No bleeps, no amps. The albums opens with Torben Wendt joining Adrian on a dual-vocal-solo-piano ‘Diorama of Dreams’ take on ‘AmoK’, a variant they’d performed on tour several years prior. It’s a rendition that brings new complexion to the song, as if the bold statement of the original had become a humbling call for help. The remaining instruments, including upright bass and acoustic guitar, then join the mix.
Some songs, particularly “She and Her Darkness” require little adaptation to fit the acoustic form, as if they were always meant to be performed in this manner. Others, like “Butterfly:Dance” and “Rumours About Angels” see radical change to their composition and meter, and in some cases (“Giftraum” in particular), the conversion process come across as quite forced. For the most part, however, this album is still vital listening for anyone who appreciates Diary of Dreams for their ability to write songs. But you all know that having read this far. No-one here soley to hunt down their bleepy club hits is likely to have read this far.