Soundpool – Dichotomies & Dreamland

Dichotomies & Dreamland

The band and self-anointed “audio/visual recording artists” Soundpool is based in New York City, formed in 2005, and consists of Kim Field (vocals, q-chord and omnichord), John Ceparano (guitar, voice, bass, drum loops), Mark Robinson (keyboards), and James Renard (drums, drum loops), along with Dean McCormick and Andy Durutti playing bass on certain songs. The band’s first album, On High, was released in 2006.

This second album, Dichotomies & Dreamland, was released in the spring of 2008 and is saturated with woozy, keening atmospherics of the heavily manipulated instruments q-chord and omnichord. Dense washes of burnished sound, kinetic rhythms, guitar and keyboards, and sweet, light, but cool and buried vocals by Kim form the basis of the song pattern, creating a drifting, gauzy feeling throughout the album, with the q-chord and omnichord contributing a twinkling, frosty sonic glaze.

The short intro puts the listener into a trance from the get-go, with a hazy, warped sound, steadily chugging beat, and Kim’s airy vocals intoning “Welcome to dreamland…”, which leads to the faster-paced “Pleasure & Pain” with its burnished textures, squiggly keyboard notes, perky but cool and distanced vocals from Kim, and, on the chorus, shiningly heightened, attenuated q-chord and omnichord notes.

“Do What You Love” is a standard verse, chorus, verse song dressed with a wavering, darker, 1980s keyboard sound, strummed guitar, and persistently bright, drawn-out q-chord and omnichord notes that are as sweet as raw honey sliding down the throat and bringing tears to the eyes. Kim emotes more on this song, pushing her vocals up at the ends of the verse phrases, then changing to a smooth and cool tone on the chorus.

In a slight change of sound, “The Only One” starts with low-key, acoustic, strummed guitar where the sound of fingers can be heard grazing the strings. Then a shimmering, dawning keyboard sound appears. The slower tempo and beat on the verse sections gives this number a trip-hop feel, but it wakes its drowsy head on the chorus where Kim sings with a lighter touch with John on backing vocals.

Soundpool saves the best for last, hitting the target on the intricate, shape-shifting “Dream Sequence” and the funky “Butterfiles”.

“Dream Sequence” (the song title is broken into four segments, a. “Weeping Willow Days”, b. “Close My Eyes and Sleep”, c. “The Precarious Peace”, and d. “Metamorphosis”) is a doozy of a song as it morphs from one type of musical style to another, from the opening lullaby of acoustic, picked guitar and spacey noise with Kim and John’s hushed, mirroring vocals to the unexpectedly sped-up beat of the next segment, with John sounding like Jim Reid of Jesus And Mary Chain against shimmering q-chord and omnichord, to the fast-tempo jazz break with Kim’s sultry, but wordless vocals and upright bass runs, to added machine-gun-fast beats, and to the ending-on-a-high sustained organ notes and spacey sound. It’s the band’s “epic” song, encompassing at least three different styles and lasting over six minutes.

“Butterfiles” (the song title includes “Explosion”) rivals the previous song for length and ingenuity, again starting low-key with a slow beat, guitar, bass, space sound, and keyboard notes, with John singing prominently, but in a hushed tone, accompanied by Kim. The beat is slinky, like a funk song played at half speed and drowning in q-chord and omnichord, with retro handclaps and winding guitar coming in, sounding as if Greg Dulli went into dream-pop mode. Delightful and different.