Wolfskin

The dreams began from the age of around four, and stopped when I was roughly thirteen...

The sensation of falling is the last thing you feel, and then sleep takes you.  As you come out of the tunnel, delta waves ride high on fluorescent foundations, constructed out of a dreamy, ethereal architecture that shouldn’t really be able to stand; our perceptions change, and the familiar, reassuring physics that control our daily lives have little to no effect upon the atmosphere. Skyscrapers in the subconscious raise themselves up on silver, sleek skeletons that look real enough, cohesively bound together like pillars of stardust, but they are only illusions. If you came close enough to touch, they would likely disappear – in dreams, close contact is an elusive thing. Like a breezy, elemental drone, an object or a person may be sighted in the distance, but their presence is so hazy and indistinct that it may even be a mirage. Before you know it, both the drone and the image resemble blurry raindrops, kissing the scene goodbye before disappearing altogether. Younger dreams are imaginative portals; nightly gateways that consist of astounding stories and recurring encounters with the unbelievable – some would make an episode of The X Files seem tame.

Dreamland isn’t just one of the many names for Area 51, America’s top secret military installation in Southern Nevada, and this dreamland certainly doesn’t require restricted access codes that are off-limits to the public. No government on Earth can deny its existence. No fighter jets search the skies, on standby to escort you out of its no-fly zone. Ever since 1947, those little grey-skinned creatures have been the stuff of nightmares for a lot of Americans. Their iconic image has been inserted into popular culture like one of those disturbing probes. In fact, the whole phenomena may have taken root in the subconscious mind as if it were a sleep pattern itself. Like the events in Roswell, our dreams will remain clouded in private, unannounced secrecy forever…but was the event as fictitious as the dream?

Our dreams replay the day’s events in an often surreal, cryptic way, the projector of the mind shooting a colourful image on to a silver screen of thought. Ambient music has long associated itself with dreaming, sticking to thin strands of unconscious thought as ambient alpha-waves glide through the inner altitudes of dreams, flying past frequencies that involve and evolve over time. Wolven comes courtesy of some extremely vivid dreams – and a couple of nightmares – that have been sculpted into what Ian Hawgood calls ‘dream sketches’. These dreams, the first of which occurred during the early years of his childhood, continued for nine years straight, until he became a teenager. And let’s face it, when the teenage years arrive, the dreams aren’t as innocent as they once were; in fact, they should probably carry a warning label. Vivid dreams are frequent in REM sleep, but Ian Hawgood spends much of Wolfskin traversing beyond the lighter state and into deep sleep territory. Initially, the prospect of sleep is turbulent, a slightly rocky start just as the body succumbs to rest. The lively loops rebound in the atmosphere, mirroring the body’s gentle surrender. Three minutes later, and we are in deep. The drone-tone thickens, sketched with repetitive, stable lines like a graph revealing a patient’s sleep patterns.

The atmospheres have cuddled, smiling appearances, roaming with a hazy, tranquil abandon. Even the nightmares have authentic, kind faces, with a sympathetic, quick exit always available, just as the giant bunny ears hop over the hill towards you. ‘Wolfskin’ is an introverted opening, an ambient lullaby that soothes the body like a recently opened bottle of warm milk. And because ambient music makes for the perfect lullaby, sleep does not elude the listener, either. Ambient lights evoke an unfolding, innocent dream that branches out the second after those tired eyes have closed, dimming the door to the world and, like soft night-lights revolving over a crib, they continue to twirl long into the night.

White fluffy clouds open up to let golden-skinned unicorns traverse gentle over shiny rainbows; these are sunny days, sweeping the clouds away in arcs that lead from one curve to another. Lucid loops and reversed tones signal some buried emotions, a dusty memory that longs to return to the surface but can’t quite overcome the sheet of drone. And while any kind of ‘sleep-based music’ can appear lazy or unfocused, Wolfskin weaves active ambient layers of subtlety under its skin of drone. There is always some degree of movement, presented in a very ambient way – one that is easy on the ear and the eye.
‘Black Teddy Red Flowers’ is as musically detailed as if it were the image of a black teddy with pinned, tiny black circles for eyes, and the drone is a heady mixture of reassurance, comfort and lingering unease, which steadily increases with each passing loop.  It’s a link to our youth, but one that is close to broken.

‘All These Memories Are Blue Type’ is a memory of itself; the memory is stuck in a piano loop that replays a much adored period over and over, recycling itself like a mind that cannot come to terms with a tragic incident. These are the moments, the incidents, where the nightmares dare to descend. The ambient strands seem to become entangled in a nightmare, snaking around the contours and slithering under the drone as if it were Medusa’s long lost relation. The dreams become deeper, until they finally enter a comatose state – ‘Let’s Dance Until The Shallows Break’. The music is cushioned, blunting the nightmare until it vanishes. It carries with it a reminder that dreams can never hurt you. The drone evaporates in the silence, in the same way that the dawn disappears a dream. Wolfskin will take you on a tour through dreamland, through the streams of the subconscious, where unquenchable desires stay firmly rooted in the distance, like the sole figure you long to touch.

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