Home Reviews Romance & Dean Hurley – River of Dreams – Album Review

    Romance & Dean Hurley – River of Dreams – Album Review

    Romance & Dean Hurley - River of Dreams - Released February 2023 on Ecstatic Recordings

    Romance & Dean Hurley - River of Dreams - Album Cover
    River of Dreams - Released 2023 on Ecstatic Recordings

    So it sort of looks the same (sort of), but I’m pretty sure this life isn’t real, I mean, this isn’t living is it? 

    Today’s review is the latest collaborative release by British hazemaker Romance and American sound artist Dean Hurley. The release “River of Dreams” is a uniquely ambitious and (not to sound obnoxious but) truly surreal album. A mixture of speckly crushed digital lo-fi, murky drones and spoken word  drama? Honestly you have to hear it to get what i’m saying but when you do it’s a fuckin’ cool concept. 

    This is their 2nd collaboration after last years in every dream home a heartache. Looking at the liner notes, the artists state that that album is 

    “A celebration of the curdled glamour and heart rending melodrama of US daytime soap operas. Entirely sampled from VHS dubbed broadcasts bit-crunched by early YouTube codecs, plaintive claims of love and desperate accusations of betrayal reside against lossy drenched grand pianos and mirage-like synth pads under a canopied sonic gauze of low fidelity”.


    Couldn’t have said it better myself really, Now as to whether or not they achieved this goal, I can safely say they knocked it out of the park. This is a druggy k-holed mess of an album, soap opera actresses ugly crying over young and restless style piano progressions, all this murky chundering drone, honestly the whole thing sounds like it’s buried and crushed into something you rarely see or hear. An album that presents to you a world that while being a ugly pale imitation of something, is truly immersive and beautiful in its own way.

    So if you think what a lot of hyper-real 90s influenced stuff does (OPN, Dino Spillutini, Vanessa Amara) they’re using these cheesy videogameish JV2080 style sounds to make something that doesn’t sound quite human but like the weirdly bright yet low resolution version  of human.

    This album achieves a similar goal but in a different way, trading in the weirdness of 90s game soundtracks for bitcrushed loops of pseudo poignant keyboard motifs that get repeated to the point of becoming meditative. It gives you a really unique feeling to listen to , you either do relate to this music on a surface level but in this bizarre fake disconnected way (much like people who watch soap operas have this weird emotional connection/relatability to the actors) 

    or you see this simulation of human feelings that is obviously off and fake. You have this initial sense of apprehension and disconnect from the material. But then you realise how truly impressive it is to be presented with this weirdly nonhuman but human sound universe they’ve created. (I would call it twin peaks-like but then i’d have to punch myself in the dick for obvious reasons).  

    When you listen to this album, the eerie theme loops with that crushed digital stuff sprinkled on top is truly captivating. By the time the ghostly melodrama voices come through it really ties the whole thing the whole universe together, man it’s a great headphone listen. It feels like a unique take on the ideas thrown out by tape machine artists such as Forest management or Graham Lambkin.  

    Waves of broken discordant voices cascade a yearning simultaenous human and unhuman

    In spite of how alien the album’s tone feels, I think if i could pinpoint two feelings you’ll likely encounter listening to this release, throughout the album there’s a distinct sense of sweetness and loss. Loss for something real? A loss for something imagined? There’s only one way to find out, tune in next time for our next episode..

    Thanks for enjoying my first article with discipline, theres plenty more reviews and interviews in the pipeline where i’ll be covering new drone/ambient/noise music releases as they come out , I hope to entertain you further with more words on the world of hazed out fucked up drone.

    Also thanks to sam for recommending me this one, I swear I wouldn’t “find” half the cool shit i do without you sending me it first

    River Of Dreams by Romance & Dean Hurley

    Previous articleGODFLESH Announce New Album “PURGE” for Release in June
    Next articleCOH meets Abul Mogard: “COH meets Abul Mogard” Album Review
    Anthony Cooley is a contributor to Discipline Magazine. He has previously written for such publications as Echoes and Dust, Musique Machine, Mutiny in Heaven and others. His writing focuses on the world of drone, noise and ambient music.