Album Review: “Dreamers” (Mark Lockheart)

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Album Review: “Dreamers” (Mark Lockheart)

Dreamers is the new project/release by British saxophonist and composer Mark Lockheart. Until I came across this album release I had not heard of Lockheart yet. That isn’t that strange, there are many great saxophonists from the UK that most people have never heard about unfortunately (like Tony Smith, Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia, Emma Rawicz, Karen Sharp, to name a few) so … it’s time for those of you who also didn’t know of Lockheart’s “existence” to shed some light on his music, in particular his latest release “Dreamers“.

This album “Dreamers” is what you could call “Jazzbient” (a fusion between Jazz and Ambient), but unlike most Jazzbient albums where Jazz is “added” to Ambient beats and soundscapes/atmospheres, Mark Lockheart has done the opposite … Jazz is clearly the dominant genre “in the mix” through Lockheart’s sound, as well as the Jazzy sounding drum grooves by Dave Smith and bass by Tom Herbert. They give the album a much more “organic” sound and feel then most (primarily electronic and “synthesized”) produced Ambient and Jazzbient releases.

Lockheart has a bright but warm Jazz sound, no “fancy” effects as you often hear with saxophone on Ambient/Jazzbient releases. What I really enjoyed about Lockheart’s playing is how melodic, or better: lyrical, it is. Many Jazz saxophonists like to “show” how skilled they are, turning their performance into what sounds more like “exercises”. Even though you can clearly hear Lockheart is a very skilled and gifted musician, he does not “overdo” things on his album.

As main composer and project leader it is obvious the album is registered as Lockhearts’, but musically – from the listener’s point of view (or at least mine) – it’s Elliot Galvin, the man behind the keys, who plays the most important “role” that sets this album apart from other modern contemporary Jazz albums. The choice of synthesizer sounds and effects is excellent – I don’t know if those were Galvin’s personal choices or “dictated” through Lockheart’s compositions – but they set the “scenery” for Lockheart’s melodies and solos. Galvin’s “work” behind the keys sound both modern as well as “old school”. With “old school” I mean that the choice of synths and soundscapes remind me in tracks like “King of the World” and “Fluorescences” of what some of the pioneers of the early electronic music did.

The overall “atmosphere” or “ambience” of the album is somewhat on the “dark side”. No cheerful “happy go lucky” melodies. The tracks even though diverse still create a consistent “story” when listening to the album. The constant change of musical “scenery”: from the more Brit-Pop groove of “Dreamers”, to the Broken beat of “Weird Weather” and “Nature V Nurture”, and from “Jagdish” that has sort of a “Marching feel” to it to the free-style “King of the World” and “Fluorescences”, from the Drum ‘n Bass-ish “Gangster Rat” to the almost Rock-like “Mirage” and “Mingle Tingle”, or the “dreamy” ballad-like pieces “Marmalade Skies” and “Dream Weaver” … there is never a dull moment when you go along with these “Dreamers”. “Sixteen” is probably the most Ambient-like” track on this album.

Now, with some of the other reviews at Roel’s World I “analyzed” the tracks (or at least some of them) individually as well, but I think after the overall album review above I have said more then enough. So, In stead I will just share my 3 favorite tracks from the album below and include some links to the rest of the album (bandcamp), website & online profiles, so you can explore the rest on your own. I think that seems fair?

I hope you enjoy listening to these tracks (and the complete album) as much as I did.

Marmalade Skies (track 8)
Weird Weather (track 2)
Sixteen (track 10)