|Diary of Dreams|
I first became acquainted with the Diary of Dreams sound with their Psychoma? album. From the minute I first heard it, I couldn't put it down. Since then I just had to get my hands on all of their albums and have constantly kept up with all of the latest releases. This proves to be a feat in and of itself because Adrian and Co. seem like they are constantly busy composing and releasing new music. But it's all great music and worth having every album.
In my search for great music I soon found that the Diary of Dreams story started long before 1998 when I first heard them. It originally started as a solo project of Adrian Hates in the late 80's. But the first album wasn't released until 1994 with Cholymelan. Gradually the fanbase has grown over the years and with each release the sound has grown more mature and leaned more towards danceable anthems and ballads while remaining true to the Gothic-oriented, emotional-laiden style that was created so many years ago. The music has a definite gothic / darkwave sound with excellently written, emotional vocals and lyrics. It is also so easy to recognize with it's unique elements that also help create such an enjoyable sound.
Their albums are released on Accession Records in Europe, which was formed by Diary of Dreams for their own releases, but has attracted a very wide array of electronic artists. In the United States Metropolis Records has taken over the releases of the Diary of Dreams albums beginning with Moments of Bloom.
Each new album is a treat for fans, though their entire discography is worth going back and picking up if they are available. The band continues to perform live around the world and find time to write and record more new music. As always, listeners can hear selections on the Gothic Paradise radio shows.
Ego:X - Review
Keeping up the pace of releasing great music every couple of years, it's time for the band's latest album. One thing we've grown to appreciate from this band is their predictability, we know we're not going to be presented with major sweeping changes and they stick with what is the status quo for them. We have here a nice album with their tried and true sound spanning fourteen incredible tracks.
It all starts out with a german spoken-word intro "Into X" which gives way to the excellent upbeat piece "Undividable". This piece is the definition of the great dance-friendly, yet emotionally powerful music that this group is able to produce. Including moving, heavy beats that keep up the tempo with layers of various synths and electronic loops and subtle, yet grinding guitar adding a nice gothic rock touch to it all, giving us a perfect example of electro-goth music. Adrian Hates' vocals remain the staple to the sound for this band and he carries each piece magnificently as always, whether they're driving and dance-friendly like this one, or the mid-to-downtempo pieces that grace each album. "Lebenslang" follows in much the same style and keeps the album moving along before dipping into the more classically driven, minimalistic piece "Grey the Blue". The sweet piano is another excellent signature element for each of these slow, ballad-like pieces.
Over the course of the album, the listener comes to realize we have something of a theme going here with occasional spoken-word pieces (if you understand german), sandwiched in between angst-ridden, emotionally captivating pieces. The styles span the band's entire history with a lot of variety for a good mix from the upbeat, to the sweet and beautiful piano pieces. Favorites crop up throughout the duration of the 14 pieces, "Undividable" is definitely one as mentioned before. "Immerder"'s style is one to die for even though as an english speaker, the german doesn't entirely resonate, the music and emotion speaks to the listener's soul in such a way that understanding the lyrics isn't always necessary. "Push Me" featuring Amelia Brightman is a true gem on this album and something a bit different from the status quo for this group. The female vocals are definitely a nice touch providing a contrast with Adrian's deep voice, a sort of angelic touch to a suffering soul. This latter feeling of suffering is really brought out on "Splinter" with the catch-phrase "You make me hate myself", and across the course of the emotionally drenched music.
At track 10 we have the last of the spoken word interludes and then we're off through another set of pieces that provide an emotional roller coaster ride. "Fateful Decoy" becomes another favorite from the album with the emotionally charged range from soft, quiet and dreamy to the intense angst-ridden mix of mid-tempo beats and layers of pulsating electronics. After this the album slowly comes to a close with "Weh:Mut" which is mostly a very soft instrumental until about 3 minutes in when soft, deep vocals, dripping with emotion provide the final message before the final closing remarks on "Out of X".
There you have it, another stellar work, not deviating much from the tried and true sound we've grown to love over the years as they add yet another album to a very impressive, every-growing discography. Definitely worth picking up for fans old and new.
(if) - Review
It's been just a couple of years since the last release and this band is back with one of their best works to date. This new album presents a dozen excellent pieces that span the best dark, brooding styles from the dance-friendly to the emotional downtempo and mid-tempo tracks.
The album is arranged similar to other previous releases, starting off with a powerful mid-tempo piece "The Wedding" with bombastic instruments and percussion providing the underlying strength behind Adrian's layered, deep vocals. This immediately became a favorite piece with the powerful song structure. Including this piece, we have an emotionally driving collection of pieces, whether ranging from this harder edged, mid-tempo style, to the soft, ethereal downtempo pieces, each is full of emotion and power. Other pieces like this first track include "Wahn!Sinn?" which exhibits more of the excellent guitar work that usually just appears subtly in the background. The german vocals also lend a certain edge to this piece mixing well with the harsher music. Later, "The Chain" becomes another powerful edgy piece with these harsh elements.
"Odyssey Asylum" picks up with a bit more moving electronic rhythm that moves along nicely showing the world how the creative power continues to flow even after nine full-length albums. This track has quickly become a favorite with the powerful chorus "please let the rain fall down on me..." mixed with the upbeat rhythm and emotionally driven music. This mixes perfectly with the next piece "Poison Breed" which is another smooth dance-friendly electronic piece that club-goers should enjoy and hearkens back to the club tracks from Freak Perfume and One of 18 Angels. Along these same lines we also have "Choir Hotel" and "King of Nowhere" which are other favorite dance-friendly pieces of mine that I can imagine being well accepted on dancefloors throughout the world.
On the other end of the spectrum we have the dreamy, ethereal pieces. Towards the beginning of the album, "Requiem" starts off soft and dreamy and slowly builds a little for another somber mid-tempo piece. Immediately following "Wahn!Sinn?", as if in reaction to the harsh sound, we reverses direction and are presented with one of the many excellent, dreamy ballads this band has created over the years with "The Colors of Grey". As with others, the piano and somber background synths play a key role in the music backing Adrian's haunting vocals. Towards the end of the album we get a mix of the dreamy and edgy pieces with "21 Grams of Nothing" and then "Mind Over Matter". They are mainly somber, but include some of the harsher percussion and heavier instruments. But this is all washed away with the finale to the album "Kingdom of Greed". Like so many works before, we finalize it all with one of these soft and somber pieces to wrap up all of the final thoughts in shear beauty for another wonderful album.
Nekrolog 43 - Review
Over the career of this talented artist we have come to know and love the dark, brooding, yet upbeat and often dance-friendly style that appears on each new album. Yet with each album we are presented with something slightly fresher and different from the previous work. This latest album contains 13 of these emotionally driven tracks that we've grown to love over the years.
While I've listened to and own pretty much every Diary of Dreams release, and there is always an underlying thread or overall style that one can recognize from this project, this album stands out amongst the last few as seeming to really be an evolution, yet really going back to the solid style of the late 90's that really started to launch this band onto the scene in force. Each track is powerful with a moving, yet almost unique percussion, never a "four on the floor" techno beat, but always solid. The overall flow of this album shows how the emotional extremes that this band uses come together so well, while the slow introduction of the title track is hypnotik and haunting, it gives way to the powerful anthem "The Plague". The excellent dance-friendly piece "Song of a Thief" is excellent in it's display of two extremes, at first being harsh and cold and then building to a moving, melodic chorus that is captivating.
As with previous albums there are plenty of dark ballads to choose from that always grace the airwaves of the Gothic Paradise Ethereal radio show. This album contains a few of these tracks and they are excellent, remaining true ballads, though all the intensity of the music still shines through on pieces like "Tears of Joy" and "Matching Lives". Along the lines of the stunning mid-tempo tracks, this album really shines so much like my old favorite Psychoma?, with pieces like the already mentioned "Matching Lives", it seems this is just a continuation of that classic album. But then they throw together "Remedy Child" which hearkens more to the recent years when the club-friendly tracks take center stage and seem to remain the focus.
The album wraps up in style, as you can always count on from this band. After brooding and moving pieces like "Malice" that really delve into the moody depths of the dark electronic music, we're brought through an emotional roller coaster ride of pieces until we're finally left with "The Valley" as the slowly moving finale to this disc. This is one thing you can always count on is a soft, piano piece to end the disc in style, leaving the listener breathless and reeling from the moody onslought of each album.
Menschfeind - Review
Much like the pair of releases Freak Perfume and Panik Manifest, I'm sure Adrian had so much material that he just couldn't fit it all on one release, so we're treated with an excellent follow-up mini-album in the form of Menschfeind. Die-hard fans will no doubt love the fact that we get so much new material in such a short time. Those that are just getting to know the Diary of Dreams sound have an opportunity to pick up this short work for a small price and get to know them better.
While only containing seven tracks, the duration of this work last over 40 minutes providing some great material. Much like their recently released album Nigredo, the overall tempo of this work is mostly mid-tempo with variations in tempo, style and intensity. The true form of this band is there beginning and ending the album with a slowly building and slowly fading tracks that gradually build up to a crescendo in the subsequent selections until finally fading out in a despairing gasp on the final song.
The title track "Menschfeind" does this all in powerful and perfect style, slowly building into a powerful anthem with Adrian's deep harmonized vocals and solid music and subtle electronic and guitar loops. The vocals and lyrics vary between german and english providing a harsh undertone to each track whether up-beat or slower tempo. "Haus der Stille", "Treibsand" and "The Cage" stand as the club-friendly dance tracks that should get the listener moving whether they understand english or german, both or neither. The music speaks a language all of it's own with powerful intensity. The distorted experimental sounds of "Killers" and somber moods of "Day-X-Relic" and "Pentaphobia" make up the remainder of the album providing that break in intensity and tempo for a great variety. "Pentaphobia" has quickly become a favorite of mine with the gradual crescendo and deep vocals and other moody elements. Lasting nearly eight minutes, this is a track that stays with you long after the album has finished.
Once again, Adrian and his current band have managed to pull off another masterpiece. Fans will love this one for sure.
Nigredo - Review
After two years enjoying the two great albums Freak Perfume and Panik Manifesto it's finally time for something new from this talented group. Adrian Hates continues to please fans with this release and seems to drift back into the earlier days by slowing down the tempo of the music, bringing out more percussion and various classical elements. Those fans of these earlier albums like End of Flowers and Bird Without Wings will love this latest work.
The press release describes this album as a type of concept album with a lot of research done by the band in putting together the lyrics, music and booklet. I think they've done a great job and one can see just by flipping through the booklet the great work. But once you put on the CD it all comes to life in somber, melancholy moods coupled with bombastic percussion and classical instruments combined with modern electronics. There are many similarities to past albums and of course you can recognize this as Diary of Dreams immediately with the deep vocals and moody music.
These trademark elements kick off the album with deep spoken word introducing the work. It all comes together in the form of "Dead Letter", as it builds gradually into a grand concerto. The pace remains fairly solid and mid-tempo as the listener drifts from one solid piece to another. What each song lacks in tempo, it makes up with intensity, even the soft and dreamy tracks are layered with intense emotions and other dramatic effects. The lyrics are presented in German and English which should please more people and even for me, where I understand very little German it is more meaningful as a native language to many. Also, the power of the language comes out with each vocal expression and lyrical context full of deep meaning. "Giftraum" is a perfect example of this power and thoughtful expressions coming together so perfectly. "Reign of Chaos" has also quickly become a favorite for the elements that were so prominent in Psychoma?. The pulsing bass and powerful percussion move the music along slowly, but steadily progressing in power and passion.
This feeling remains fairly steady with slight variety. Where this is a sort of concept album, I think the constant approach is understandable and enjoyable. It certainly get the overall feeling of despair across to the listener. The oppressiveness subsides slightly in a couple of dreamy tracks, including "Tales of the Silent City" and "Mask of Shame" which is a great finale for the album. This last track is simply beautiful in so many ways. It is simple and not overpowering, dreamy but not fluffy or pop-oriented. It has beautiful piano accompaniment and a steadily growing array of symphonic strings and other classical and modern elements. But overall it's Adrian's vocals that present the final message with thoughtful emotion and pure talent. Even though there is a hidden track after this finale, the listener can feel complete after these thirteen masterpieces and continue to enjoy this album for many years to come.
Panik Manifesto - Review
Being the big Diary of Dreams fan that I am, I was completely elated when I heard that another release with more new music was out. So I finally got my hands on it and have enjoyed listening to it to put together this review.
The album starts out with that tried and true sound that fans have grown to love. "Painkiller" begins this mini album out with the slowly building, powerful mid-tempo track like others that are so dominant intro tracks on previous albums. After this beautiful and epic intro, the pace quickens with "Panik?" and the style changes into a little more experimental and EBM sound with layered synths and almost overpowering synth loop that strays slightly from anything we've heard from this group. "Soul Stripper" continues on with this similar style with subtle differences like "Never go, Never let me" whispered and repeated throughout the song.
As we drift back into that trademark sound, "Sin Skinner" brings back the powerful thoughts and emotions through beautiful music and lyrics. "Drama" and "The Scream" carry on mostly in this same style and mood, with the latter varying slightly and becoming a little more electronic sounding. It comes to end with another beautiful track, almost like a ballad, but with the always haunting vocals and lyrics in "Monsters and Demons". This final work is fast becoming another of my favorites as it's mixed with classical strings and modern synths and music just layered with mystery and emotion.
In summary, this is a very nice mini-album. It includes 38 minutes of music, a beautiful booklet with artwork, pictures and lyrics on high-gloss paper. It starts with a masterpiece and ends with a masterpiece with some nice material in between. While this isn't the best material out there, it's still better than most of the latest releases in the related genres.
Interview - Feb. 5, 2003
On February 5, 2003 I sat down and had a great, in depth phone conversation with Adrian Hates, founder and front-man of Diary of Dreams. We talked for quite a while about many things and so it was hard to trim down the entire interview into something I could put here, but I've done my best to present the main points that we discussed during the interview. A great big THANK YOU to Adrian and Christian at Accession Records and Diary of Dreams.
GP: Why dont we start at the beginning of the history of Diary of Dreams. Ive read several places where its taken shape back in the 80s but nothing really happened until the late 80s and the release in 1994. What really inspired you and helped you get started with Diary of Dreams?
Adrian: Thats a very difficult question to answer It has really been a part of my life since day 1. Both of my parents brought the classical music influence into my life. Throughout my life I became fascinated with it all, especially with electronic music. What Im really trying to say is that it was a step-by-step process. I cant really look back and say on that day I started Diary of Dreams, because some of the material I originally wrote maybe back when I was about 15. So, it really was a long, long development. But officially around 89 we were working as Diary of Dreams, but my problem is that Im a perfectionist and many of my demo tapes ended up in the garbage, which sometimes I regret today because it would be great fun to hear them. So I waited a long time and while working with Garden of Delight I became friends with Wolfgang at Dion Fortune records and the guys at Garden of Delight said I should do it before somebody else does, so I did it and released my first album with Dion Fortune. But I realized that I could release my own music and so I started my own label. So, it really was a lot of work and a lot of steps and lineup changes and so forth until it finally came together.
GP: Were there any particular bands that influenced you from the beginning and are there any bands or styles that influence you or that you really like now?
Adrian: In former days, its difficult to say, because Im not really the kind of person that just likes certain bands, but in fact I may hear a song I like and may not like anything else by that artist. But in former days I would say that Kate Bush was a big influence to me because of the way she made independent music, yet marketed it as commercial music. Peter Gabriel is another example of this type of music such as in his album So and even in his new album. The music is so well structured and he puts so much effort and so much love into his music. So those are definitely artists that I would say are influences. But I really look at how much an artist can put into his music, but not really trying to copy what another artist does. Like an artist that is inspired to paint something, maybe not exactly what he saw but what is in his head. Of course, an 80s child grows up with 80s music, so there are bands that I like more and bands I like less, such as I really like Depeche Mode especially their album Music for the Masses. Also, Yazoo! which in America was known as Yaz!, they have so much talent. Alphaville was another great German band, Talk Talk also. There were also many from the genre like Clan of Xymox, Front 242 and just a whole handful of other bands.
GP: Lets talk a little bit about the Diary of Dreams style as its progressed over the years, starting with Cholymelan with a more laid-back, experimental type sound and not really danceable, and then End of Flowers and Bird Without Wings kind of builds up a little bit and then even more with Psychoma? and especially One of 18 Angels and Freak Perfume the albums are very dancey. Can you explain this change in style over the years?
Adrian: Well, again thats kind of difficult to answer. Its kind of like asking somebody who really liked to wear green before and now enjoys wearing blue. There really isnt an answer, its just more a change in taste or style. But, just guessing at my own reasons I look back and at first we hardly ever played live and I was just with myself and my studio and Alistair and we were just there, alone. At the point when we started playing and I stood on stage and there was this mass of people just sitting there and so I thought to myself it would be nice to perform something that would get the audience to react. And of course the clubs became more important and so that also started to be a factor. And also of course as a young artist, you want your music to be played and be recognized and also my own personal taste has developed. Really, over a time frame of now over 10 years, my taste has changed a bit. I cant really say that its all more up-beat, but really I have some more up-tempo songs and really slow-tempo tracks, but we dont have the mid-tempo tracks like the earlier albums had. And I really enjoy playing the powerful up-beat tracks that really get the audience going, and we also play Trama and Rumours about Angels and others, but theyre mainly dark and so we dont perform them too much. If people want to hear the ballads, we either have to do an acoustic show or they can listen to them on CD.
GP: OK, lets talk a little bit more about the commercial side of your music. With the release of the maxis O Brother Sleep and AmOK, these were the first singles youve ever released. What is the reason behind this, was it mainly to get on the DAC charts or what?
Adrian: Ill be completely honest with you about that. As usual, with my work the album was incredibly late but we had a tour all lined up. So we had a problem, we had a tour but no album, so we decided to release the first single and so thats what we toured with. Then we got back in the studio after the tour and had other problems with the release of the album and se we released the other single. And while a maxi can get you great publicity and attention, thats not the real reason why we released them. Another thing is that I will never let an album suffer time trauma, I would rather postpone an album release 10 times than rush the release of the CD. So, the two maxis were a cool option to give some fresh music to my audience and yet make honest releases. Because there was a lot of effort and heart and soul put into these releases, so they have a lot of justification for their release. They are fresh material and not just the same material as on the album with different remixes, not just a radio edit and club mix like so many others do.
GP: OK, lets talk about another unusual release. You released these singles, then you released Freak Perfume and not long after that you released the mini-album Panik Manifesto. What was the reason behind this release?
Adrian: Ill give you an honest answer on that. After the new album was done I was completely exhausted and sick and I just couldnt do anything from being so exhausted. I said to Christian that Im not going to go into the studio for months and a week later I was sitting in my studio again. Within 2 to 3 weeks I had so much material together, of course I wasnt finished with production yet or anything, but I was so far already. I knew that I would never use these tracks anywhere if they had to sit and wait on my hard drive and I didnt want to release another maxi. So I decided to go ahead and release it all as a mini-album. And this mini-album was released as others would consider as a full album. It had 38 minutes of music, high-gloss pages, pictures and everything. Of course it looks like Im just trying to push things commercially to get everyone running to buy new material, but its really not like that, I just had material ready that I wanted to release.
GP: I know this is probably a really hard question, but I just have to ask what is your favorite song from all of your work?
Adrian: *laughs* - yes, thats a very difficult question to answer because I have so many songs to choose from. I maybe have a favorite on each album, but its hard to name a favorite over-all.
GP: OK, how about you tell us then what is your favorite album and then name your favorite song on that album?
Adrian: My favorite album is Freak Perfume, my second favorite is One of 18 Angels and my third is End of Flowers. And its probably because these three have a lot in common. And my favorite song on Freak Perfume is probably She and Her Darkness.
GP: And my last question: Are you able to make a living off of your label and band now?
Adrian: Honestly, if I could not make a living by now, I would have killed myself! Yes, and actually I'm able to support myself and 2 others.
GP: Congratulations! Not many artists and even labels can say that. That is quite a feat and you certainly deserve it after all of your hard work!
Freak Perfume - Review
Once again, the latest album by Diary of Dreams has already received high praises since it's release on June 3, 2002. And once again, there is no question why it is doing so well. As anyone that has heard this album and past works will agree, it reaches across genre divisions that foolishly divide the musical audience. People from synthpop lovers to the most devout Gothic music freaks all can enjoy this release.
Beginning with a beautiful piano solo loop that appears on so many tracks, "Traum:A" kicks off this powerful album. The pounding percussion, layers of synths and guitars all blended together make a musical, mid-tempo masterpiece. As with many of the latest works, the tempo picks up and we're presented with "The Curse". Another powerful and danceable track combining the dark, brooding lyrics and music with Adrian's magnificent voice.
The entire album includes several powerful dance tracks, including my favorite mix of "O' Brother Sleep", which different mixes appeared on a single previous to the release of this album. Others included on singles and destined to be club hits are "She" and "AmoK". All powerfully written, excellently produced and wonderfully performed tracks.
But don't think this is all a cold, synthpop driven album meant for the dancefloor. Adrian still writes some of the best mid-tempo ballads ever, rivalling great writers such as Robert Smith of The Cure. The final two tracks are perfect examples, creating somewhat of a finale to the album with "Play God" and "She and Her Darkness". The emotional power in these two final tracks do nothing less than pierce the listener's heart with the message and overall feeling and mood presented.
This limited edition digipack also include 3 extra remixed tracks including "The Curse (freak-edit)", "AmoK (Dj Gb: Shock Mix)" and "Stranger than Rebellion". All are excellent remixes and are great additions to an already complete album. Of course I can't leave out the booklet containing the lyrics, artwork and credits. All are put together reaching perfection, from the digipack, artwork, lyrics, music and vocals... combining for a perfect release. I can easily give this a 5 out of 5 rating.
European Label: Accession Records
USA Label: Metropolis Records