The documented implosion of Scale the Summit would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. With Travis LeVrier becoming a full-time member of Entheos, it left former members in J.C. Bryant and Mark Michell without a primary musical outlet. It only seemed right to bring the focus back around on the quietly lain Tetrafusion, whose last release was the Horizons EP way back in January 2012. A little over five years later, the gift of Dreaming of Sleep has been bestowed to us—and what a gift it is.
Tetrafusion is back in full force, with an album that combines elements of bands you already know and love while using these pieces in creative and unique ways to create a supremely engaging listening experience. You’ll find bits of Dream Theater,
Pink Floyd, Between the Buried and Me, Monuments, hints of chiptune music, Cynic, and even Opeth. The influences range from extremely overt worship to borrowing of technique, but it’s so interesting to hear what sort of tapestry Dreaming of Sleep is.
Dreaming of Sleep is less about the songs from to back, but speaks on a level that constantly exposes you to captivating moments. For example, there’s a part in “Blank Pages” roughly halfway through the song that has an ascending keyboard bit after a mildly anxious beeping section that leads into a subdued lead guitar overlaid by the softly sung lyrics before again transitioning into a post-rock-influenced riff that increases the upbeat feeling of the song. Dreaming of Sleep is littered with just excellently-crafted moments like this that keep you waiting for the next one and, even upon repeated listens, they’re good every time. Another example lies in the main riff in “Awakening,” as it is such a groovy bit of Opeth worship that you can’t really help but love it.
Dreaming of Sleep has musicianship in spades. Drummer J.C. Bryant is unsurprisingly the backbone of a lot of the songs. His consistent rhythms and snappy fills tastefully decorate the album, while his rhythmic partner in Mark Michell on bass not only provides the low end to the music, managing to bedeck the songs with with a deft restraint when necessary, but executes charming flourishes to illuminate already excellent progressive songs.
The forefront of the band in Gary Tubbs‘ vocals and keyboard work accompanied by Brooks Tarkington‘s guitar work (and backup vocals) is so fascinating. Every person in Tetrafusion is really dedicated to their craft, but being at the front of the sonic soundscape is never an easy task. The interplay of guitar and keyboards on Dreaming of Sleep is, dare I say, fun. This back-and-forth woven with support and denial from both of these melody-creating instruments makes for music that doesn’t necessarily rely heavily on keys or guitar, but would fall apart with the absence of either.
The one major complaint that can be levied against Dreaming of Sleep is that vocalist Gary Tubbs’ voice is sometimes overwhelmed by the music. This issue can either be due to how the music is mixed or the lack of power and dynamism he projects in the recordings, but there is something so jarringly disengaging with some of the vocal delivery that it sometimes takes you out of the music just enough. His voice may just be too icy and lacks a certain warmth of commitment.
Dreaming of Sleep is a legitimately cool album with enough interesting movements during the music itself and ideas surrounding both its musical construction and lyrical themes to satisfy both the passive and hardcore progressive fans.
Tetrafusion’s Dreaming of Sleep is available right now via Bandcamp at the Name Your Price option.