The music of this double album was created in the slipstream of and inspired by the 30th anniversary of Steve’s standout release “Dreamtime Return”, one of my all-time favorites. While preparing a celebratory concert at the Galactic Center, Tucson Arizona, in February 2018 new kindred soundworlds started to emerge that expanded and evolved on excavated essential sounds, samples and environmental recordings of the original. The latter all came to full bloom during the live-in-a-studio-like environment of the venue eventually.
Well, I felt hesitant to dig this album and when I finally did it occured to me how hard and confronting it turned out to be: one can’t nor shouldn’t compare the nine expanded and evolved pieces on this new one with the highly immersive soundings, special impact and timeframe the original saw the light of day. Although following the path of the original recording and its attempt to re-immerse in the classic’s primal atmosphere, I sense “Return to the Dreamtime” comes forward as lighter and above all less magical.
A listen to the 40-minute opener “Towards the Dream 2018” already reveals this quite clearly, something that’s repeated in stronger or lesser form on the following tracks. Fortunately, some of the original’s wished intensity surfaces occasionally such as on “The Ancients’ Way” and “Looking for Safety 2018” (but it’s a pity the serenity in the latter piece is undermined by fractal thunder beats in the second half). Next to the previous there’s about 30 minutes of new material found at the end of the second disc by means of “Toward the Continuum” and “After the Return”. Both modern-angled pieces give their best shot to fit in the same aural frame, but the first has slight distortion at a few segments while the second composition simply doesn’t reach the same level of calming depth, introspection and atmospheric serenity I appreciate and know so well from “The Return”.
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