Side Projects: Dreamboat

Vortex Music Magazine

Listening to the collaboration between singer-songwriter Ilyas Ahmed and the experimental duo Golden Retriever, comparisons aren’t easy to come by, yet there’s a strange inevitability to the project—as if the pieces were long since waiting for these three musicians to pick them up and lock them together. From tense moments of free jazz skronk to rafter-rattling drones, the evolution of Dreamboat has been aided in no small way by their tight-knit relationship.

News of the collaboration between the ghostly singer-songwriter Ilyas Ahmed and the experimental drone duo Golden Retriever didn’t come as a surprise: the three men have been friends for years. But catching an early set by the appropriately named project—Dreamboat—as part of 2012’s MusicfestNW sent this writer reeling when they melded their musical minds together in gorgeous, earth-shaking fashion.

Playing at The Old Church, the three teased out a 40-minute set that matched Ahmed’s quiet 12-string guitar and reverb-heavy vocals with the undulating waves of Matt Carlson’s modular synth and Jonathan Sielaff’s heavily processed bass clarinet tones. It felt the psychedelic experience writ large, filling the mind’s eye with bold primary colors and a thick coat of mist.

“I don’t mean this in a boastful way,” Ahmed says, “but there’s nothing I can place my finger on to describe what it sounds like. With bands now, a lot of times there’s a really digestible reference point. It sounds like the Stooges or garage rock with a capital G. But friends of mine that I’ve played our stuff for or who have seen us, tell me they haven’t heard anything like it.”

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