Richard Schneider Jr.-Dream Like Land
December 2, 2012
Dream Like Land (Harvest/EMI Victrola 1977)
Honestly, I don’t know much of anything about this one. All I know is that Jaki Liebezeit of Can plays the drums with a dude named “Jumpy” manning the omnipresent synths while a Wolfgang Maus handles the bass duties in support of Richard Schneider Jr., who counts the glockenspiel, tubular bells, 12-String guitar and the incessant shake of the cowbell as his chief duties on his 1977 masterwork, Dream Like Land. If this was the soundtrack to my life, it would be an epic one indeed. Spanning a spectrum of scenarios and worlds of sound, Dream Like Land is true trip through all of my favorite things about music from the 70s. Some tracks get positively oceanic as Schneider and Jumpy lay down some waves of synthesizers that kind of wash over you like you’re taking a bath in Wendy Carlos and Tangerine Dream as Schneider intones some apocalyptic pablum about time machines and fighting your inner demons. Others suddenly flip the switch then you get a bird-eye view of what would occur if you mixed Can, Tomita and a crack team of funk musicians convened in a Studio 54 converted into a tiki-hut for the night. In other words, the album rules in more ways than I thought possible.
The shifts are so jarring on Dream Like Land. It tries to have it both ways as a highly medicated meditation on David Bowie’s “Major Tom” drowned in waves of synth and a bizarro world reflection of what disco would sound like if invented by a group of weirdos obsessed with warping it into something alien to our planet. On one hand, you get tracks like “Illusion” which rise and fall on these florid, sensitive and undeniably fried guitar solos that glide over an incessant and evolving synth crescendo as Schneider paints this kind of messed-up lyrical landscape populated by futuristic dudes bummed out about the absence of love from their space-age sweethearts. Yeah, it’s kind of weird, but somehow I find myself pulling for these lovable losers from lands beyond our comprehension.
The other side of the equation is almost as far-fetched as the first. “Hello Beach Girls”begins with the soothing sounds of some choppy surf as Schneider starts scatting like some stoned Parisian waiter while Can’s Jaki Liebezeit goes bananas in the most restrained, yet funky way possible. Wolfgang Maus improves on this perfection with a simple, yet gloriously incessant repetition of the same bass notes as synthesizers squeal in the cheesiest of manners until the circle is completed by Schneider who brings it all home with a whistling coda that lifts you off into the heavens where Dream Like Land’s protagonists take a load off between bouts of indecision and pursuits of other worlds.
Dream Like Land is one of those albums that finds a comfy chair for such disparate elements as flute solos, circling hazes of synths, funky baselines, jackrabbit drumming and existential pleas from other galaxies. It all sounds entirely absurd on paper, but Richard Schneider patches it all together into a seamless quilt that embraces the unexpected and perverse as long as the primary mission of having a good time is achieved by all. It sounds like it was a blast to create and it surely is a blast to listen to whenever you want to keep the doldrums at bay.
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