Blackhouse has been kicking around the underground in relative obscurity since before I was born. This is the project's second release for Blacklight Records (sense a theme here?) since signing with them a few years back. For reasons unknown to me the sole member of Blackhouse has preserved his or her anonymity over the years (even going so far as to wearing masks for promo photo shoots).
Blackhouse is constantly reworking its sound and changing direction significantly from outing to outing, which has undoubtedly kept the music going for so many years. A lengthy discography is spread out over numerous labels such as Staalplat, Dark Vinyl, Daft, Minus Habens and, more recently, Blacklight.
Dreams Like These is very experimental and sounds largely improvisational, though this seems to go against the intent. In his/her own words, Blackhouse describes the disc as "a therapy tool designed to infiltrate the mind during dreamlike synapse and illuminate multiple possibilities by manipulating brain waves and respiratory regiment through specific frequencies and phase modulation." Quite a mouthful. Needless to say this is all lost on me... it's hard to write a review while sleeping.
The approach has an antiquated, lo-fi feel to it, as though it would have been cutting edge back in the days of early Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire. From a listener's standpoint, a portion of this material is quite difficult to get in to, the short and uneven bursts of syncopated drumming in "Attic Friends" and shrill, serated "Flatliners" frequencies coming to mind. The music is all quite minimal, without a lot of clutter, yet anything but a direct approach is applied.
Ironically, "Bones" fleshes out the sound considerably with droning synthesizer melodies that put a new spin on the disc's sound, with added structure and a sense of direction. Most of the compositions are quite relaxed, and sound like the result of a great deal of playing around in a home studio. The title track stands out the most, a wandering dark ambient piece that conveys an effectively cold mood before cross-fading into "All This Language," which opens with an open-air recording of chirping birds and distant traffic. Some of the more conventional instrumentation is heard on this track with a vaguely bluesy guitar, though replayed backwards.
Overall Dreams Like These is a fairly middle-of-the-road release -- there's nothing downright horrible about it, but at the same time it also seems to lack any defining feature that jumps out and grabs you. If you're unsure about the band you can conveniently pick and choose titles from their backcatalog at emusic.com, and pay a modest download toll, or listen to some free real audio clips instead.