Dreamsploitation: Soft Focus Sound of Today
From Here To There Records

Recordings assembled from samples can be as inspired as Amon Tobin's Permutation or as middling as Ekkehard Ehlers' Betrieb and Andrew Pekler's Nocturnes, False Dawns & Breakdowns. Without question, Chuck Blazevic's Dreamsploitation opus Soft Focus Sound of Today belongs in the former category. Though he only initiated the project in summer 2007, the twenty-three-year-old record Bedford, Nova Scotia native brings a fetishist's love for detail and a composer's ear for melody and arrangement to the fourteen tracks on the forty-eight-minute release. Stitched together using the rare Monome 256 sampler, Blazevic combines dozens of micro-samples lifted from obscure vinyl releases with recordings of his own instrument playing which, true to genre form, are then reshaped and re-formatted into galaxial tapestries that variously reference ‘60s lounge music, B-movie soundtracks, disco, and acoustic jazz. Sounds float in and out of the heady mix as one track after another briefly transports the listener to half-remembered dreamscapes.

The album's sunlit spirit asserts itself immediately in “The Night Everything Changed,” a dizzying kaleidoscope of breezy female vocalizing, shimmering keyboard patterns, gently funky, and bass-thumping rhythms, and the tracks that follow make good on its promise. Blazevic nicely digs into instrumental clip-hop on “Major Seventh Gates” with dusty piano and vibes melodies and acoustic bass lines swimming across a snappy pulse while “Monochrome” sounds anything but single-hued when its jubilant female voices and charging breaks appear. The disc's full of steaming roller-coasters (e.g., “Our Future Salad Days,” “Flashback, Temporal Bliss, Flashback,” “Death to the Chuck I Hate”) where blissful waves of strings and pianos are buoyed by swinging rhythms.

Blazevic's no lazy artisan who slaps samples and beats together and calls it a day. Instead, the intricacy of a given tune's construction reveals the workings of an immersive sensibility. Listen, for example, to the inspired tempo shifts in “Continue to Dream, If Only Sleeping” and how he deftly turns the beat around. He further distinguishes the Dreamsploitation style from the competition by eschewing synths and MIDI for natural-sounding materials that are often orchestral in origin and reveal a love for pop arrangers and film composers of the 1960s. At present, Dreamsploitation may be as obscure a name as the plundered materials constituting Soft Focus Sound of Today but, if there's any justice in the world, that won't last long.

October 2008