Review by Keith (Blue 22)

I find myself confronted by a rare beast indeed – an album by Tik and Tok! Surely not, but yes it’s true, the boys are back in town with their latest recording, (which in all honesty should make the Guinness Book of Records as it appears to have been a recording 22 years in the making!!!).

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue – these then are the facets that make ‘Dream Orphans’ a natural successor to the 1984 ‘Intolerance’ album. ‘Orphans’ offering the listener a broad spectrum of musical styles ranging from delicate ambience to industrial strength electronica; from thrash metal to dub, it’s all here to one extent or another. For a better part of it’s duration the album appears to shift through a series of atmospheres like some kind of musical travelogue, it’s constituent parts threaded together by a variety of garbled samples, with many nods to the past adding a ready air of familiarity to the new material.

Like a slow train moving off the music graduates from the cinematic drama of the opening title track through to a generally more laid back/ambient first half to the album set, events gathering pace building to a steady head of steam. There’s a twist at the halfway mark with ‘Intolerance V’, then we’re away on a musical rollercoaster of a ride with a whole bunch of tracks that are pure electronica, cram packed with as much dynamism as could possibly be squeezed into each of the pieces,( just like in the good old days). The tracks thriving on a carefully cultivated framework of driving rhythms set to stun.

General highlights: - there are many!!! Track two, ’A Strange Spacial Circumstance’ is a well paced ambient track. Most uplifting, light and airy; the gypsy violin improvisations are absolutely spot on. ’Tokyo Girls’ l found to be alittle too lightweight and poppy for my taste, but there’s no denying that the sequencing and mood cannot be faulted. The same is true of the following track ‘Your Face or Mine’, a track in which grows in intensity, but at just 5 mins ends way too soon taking until it’s final minute to really get into it’s stride. The edgy ‘Intolerance V’ for me makes that transition of two decades between albums perfectly. Track ten,’Gone Sparky’ is where thing’s really peek; a defined musical statement and for my money where the guy’s should be heading next. It’s loud and proud with just a hint of ‘devil may care’ about it!!!.

‘Dream Orphans’ is an album which l found to be stronger as a whole rather than one which relies on the individual merit’s of it’s tracks,( the same could and most probably was said of ‘Intolerance’ back in the 80’s) each track feeding off the other’s strengths adding momentum and variety, though never really straying too far from that musical path that Tik and Tok fan’s will be more than happy with. This coupled with a crisp and punchy production job which at it’s very heart see’s a solid core of melody around which multilayered synth textures swirl and rather adept sequencing moves.

The subtle,( and sometimes not so subtle) guitar work throughout pinning everything together adding that all important human touch to events, making for music which sounds composed rather than generated. The anthemic ‘Time4Us’ winds up the album set in such a way as to almost parody their own 80’s style, but don’t turn off the CD just yet as the hidden track 14,‘Runny Dutch Rub A Dub’ plays after a short pause. It’s a completely fun track that has little if anything to do with the rest of the album, demonstrating that the lads aren’t taking themselves too seriously.

All said and done a frighteningly good album that manages to keep a foot firmly down on the entertainment pedal!!!