Dream Chambers shepherds us through the limitless world of electronic music in ‘The Longest Night’

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Recommended Tracks: “Hopeful”, “Love For You”, “Soil and Seeds”, “Infinite Light”

Artists You May Like: Caterina Barbieri, Hiro Kone, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

Dream Chambers is the name for APRA award-winning singer-songwriter Jess Chambers, whose new ethereal electronic album, The Longest Night, was released on October 28th 2021.

The Longest Night reflects the continuous journey from Jess Chambers’ former life as a singer-songwriter into experimental territory, featuring re-imaginings of folk songs deconstructed and condensed into potent forms with sonic beds of synthesizer and granulated vocals.

Born in the isolated beauty of the South Island of New Zealand, electronic artist Jess Chambers (Dream Chambers) spent the first 4 years of her life in remote, idyllic locations with bohemian parents who shifted residence from farmhouse to house bus.

Her family migrated from New Zealand to Southern California and found community within the Pentecostal church where, as a child, Chambers was indelibly affected by the deep longing for salvation expressed through music. Epic church services that achieved group transcendence through vocal harmony and trance ignited her exploration of the power of music. Known in New Zealand for her delicately orchestrated folk albums and work with Rhian Sheehan, The Upbeats and the Woolshed Sessions (which won her an award for best country song in 2009), Jess relocated to Nashville Tennessee in 2012 where she first encountered a vibrant underground electronic scene and began a transformative journey into the world of music technology.

Recent influences include the vocal works of film composer Hildur Gudnadottir and modular synthesists such as Caterina Barbieri and Hiro Kone for their expression of complex, sometimes dissonant or paradoxical emotional states.

Themes on the album range from  longing for love and connection to aspirations of transcendence beyond the mundanity of daily life – an impulse that drew Jess to synthesizers. “I experience the sound of electricity and oscillators as the most evocative of that transcendent experience.”

Chambers found artistic autonomy by learning to program drum machines and synthesizers, building a personal home studio, and mastering Ableton Live. This sparked an ongoing fascination with the infinite possibilities of electronic instruments. Her sound – actualized through a mass of synthesizers, sequencers, and vocal processors – counterpoints heavy sub-bass with crystalline granular synthesis, shimmering arpeggios, and a cappella harmonies rooted in gospel and folk traditions.

The Longest Night

Jess’ ever deepening dive into the limitless world of electronic sound is tempered only by her roots. The accessible ache of traditional folk elements weave throughout an otherwise terrestrial soundscape.

Don’t let the naysayer say what’s what

Call it love or faith

You are a little flame

Not a big mistake

To every hopeful dreamer

To all the wishes ever whispered

To the night, to the night

From “Hopeful”, The Longest Night

The Longest Night begins and ends with hope. Even as terrestrial sounds coupled with unpredictable rhythms elicit feelings of existential dread and uncertainty, something immediately accessible in a melody, lyric, or layer keeps the dreamer moving forward with transcendent purpose. Jess’ voice shines with breathy intensity like a beacon in night. Songs like “Cosmic Wanderers” reimagine timeless sentiments in new and visceral ways.

“…Soon we’ll be old, and I just want to spend it [time] with you” resonates as especially sincere over a track that floats and pulses simultaneously, much like being in love. Aahs, oohs, vocalises, synths, repetition – the kinds that you add to a song when the emotion is rising and words are not enough – communicate the near inexpressible experience of a chemically hijacked brain, surrendered to the moment.

Jess Chambers’ is a master of broad compositional technique, employing a wide variety in this short album alone. Subtle, nuanced, and deeply affective text painting gives depth to otherwise plain-spoken lyrics. The lyrical exception on the album is “Soil and Seeds”, a duet, in effect, which embellishes the lyric’s metaphor with surprising and artfully managed growth and decay. Layers of vocal chem trails, stuck on repeat like a chorus of skipping records shock and then settle the ear, building in scope and density until the volume is suddenly…turned down. The last note starts with Jess singing in a high, resonant space; so resonant that its transition from human voice into computer generated tone is barely perceptible.

I went out looking for a place to grow some seeds in the ground

Kneeling down, I faced the sun

I went way up high

Saw the angle of the moon in the sky

I said Yes, Yes I will

– From “Soil and Seeds”, The Longest Night

“Infinite Light” is undoubtedly the floor filler of the album. Jess Chambers’ decidedly speech-y tone, airy offsets, and very particular pitch pending gives nod to more pop flavors as the soundscape reflects a conventional EDM vibe, conspiring to make the listener feel tangible, driven, and weightless. If ecstasy were a song, this would be it.

Light a candle in your mind

Say the words, say them

Over and over again*huh*

I am infinite light

I am endless love

It feels good

You’re not the same

You’re not the same

It feels good

Feels good (3x)

– From “Infinite Light”, The Longest Night

Jess flexes her compositional muscles and shows us how experimental she’s willing to get – and how far away from the buoys of accessibility she can venture – in the album’s penultimate song and only instrumental, “Interlude”. Not for the faint hearted. The transient rabbit hole of “Interlude” seems briefly as though it may be extended to the introduction of the album’s final piece, “Solitary”, before Jess’ voice again calls us to firmer ground.

Feeling lost

There’s a trail through the night

Don’t give up the ghost

Don’t give up the fight

If you’re lonely

The night’s too long and solitary

In the light of day

You’ll be glad hope had her way

– From “Solitary”, The Longest Night

You can listen to The Longest Night on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, and on Sonorous Circle.

Keep up with Dream Chambers:  Twitter // Instagram // Facebook // YouTube // Website

 

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