Donor Lens - Desire Path
May 6, 2022
Mirage floats in, Quaid using infectious 808 sounds from the very beginning to set a recognisably danceable tone. A vision appears, swaying and buffeting in between the percussion. A tinny glimpse beyond the centred drum sounds into a tranquil refraction of sound. A heavy-handed tom drum heralds the entrance of lower frequency sounds into the mix. A light tom then provides a dynamic in the newer percussive sounds. Still, Quaid lets the instrumentation sing out, not yet hindered by heavy bass that hunkers everything down to the floor of the mix. The beautiful warbling synth sounds spread out across the stereo field as the image of this blistering desert becomes clearer. The opener of Dreem Static provides this beautiful open plan introduction, sizzling in heat and light.
Private Myths with that same sun-kissed synth sounding more thick and fleshed out. A beautiful jaunting drumbeat begins, more abruptly than in the previous track. These two aspects are joined by a crystalline voice, singing out repeatedly, giving rise to harmonising synths as they begin to seep through. The sequencing of the beat is incredible, seeming to do everything it can to escape mundanity, it always feels slightly off. As if it was following its own trajectory, slightly detached from the melody. The synth line that started it all seems to move stubbornly, in its own time, falling just behind the beat at certain points. Quaid hits out confidently with the track, sittings somewhere between modular melody making and trustworthy danceable rhythm.
2Desire is the first of a few shorter tracks that serve as interludes on the album. This track finds Quaid stumbling down a more atonal and freeform pathway. An almost eerie sample undulates over and over again, phasing in and out of focus. An echoing clap ricochets with a tight reverberation as a muffled voice begins to speak on beat. A slightly off-tune piano sprays housey chords into the fray of repeating sound. It seems that the artist isn’t afraid to stray into more hypnagogic territory. And what’s more, the nature of 2Desire feels tied tightly to this dreamlike surrealism that Quaid seems eager to express.
Binary Starr hits with a heavy, thundering bassline as the percussive elements struggle to catch up. Quaid dances playfully between thick instrumentation and skeletal texture, as the introduction to the song is almost a polar opposite to the track before. Alien arpeggiations begin to permeate the jilted rhythm, placing the song in an eerie yet funky space. Supernatural synth sounds swirl around the mix as the drums continue ever so slightly knocked out of time. A track that is one part spooky walk through South London streets, and one part scavenging the unknown depths of space.
idreamtaboutuagainlastnite brings us back to this fantastically rich murk of sampled sound and slow percussion. A passionate vocal sample calls out in the midst of fountains of synth and sibilant crash cymbals. The track almost runs in reverse. Drums sound glacier-like, the reverberation of them snapping back with an icy hiss. Beneath this a synth skips along with short sharp blips to then descend in a squelching scale, accompanied by a hammering bass drum. From scary funk to a sludgy R&B intermission.
Dreem Theme erupts at the middle point in the album. Thick, modular synths create a cool and calming wall of sound. The track feels separated from those before it, an incredible fantasy song sparkling with life and positivity. It only lasts for a short while, but its effects are felt deeply.
Mystery features Shepherd, who provides a unique high pitched vocal hook to glistening synths from the start. From the outset, the track is incredibly listenable and engaging. The bass keeping an infectious momentum that Shepherd reflects in his pacy vocals. It’s beautiful to hear Quaid pin back the creativity he’s implemented so far, and use his skills in a production role for a vocalist. The two have an undeniable chemistry that inspires rhythmic movement from any listener. Quaid begins to break us out of the trance the song has put us in, with a minor scale of notes toward the end. This breaks just before the end, giving Shepherd time to see us out.
Warm house vibes emanate out from the second Latent Heat begins. Entrancing rhythm bubbles up past gurgling samples. The whole thing plays out in slow-motion, the melodic aspects of the track glistening in sunshine. The rolling drum sample filling the wide space created. A smooth, high pitched whirling arpeggiation begins to drip through from above the song, breezing in on the waves of refracted heat. Affectations are brought in and drawn out slowly, but the structure of the track is fairly minimal and sparse. A voice appears in the throng of sound, babbling incessantly as sunstroke takes over.
Chimera Interlude introduces a large, grandiose sounding sample before Quaid begins to push its pitch down with every repetition. A twinkling sound, like a necklace being played with keeps a beat amidst formless sample manipulation. Shepherd appears again, ad-libbing auto-tuned croons.
Uncanny Valley brings us back to modular synthwork. A pair of arpeggiating chords communicate an organic feeling from the outset. Like a sonic representation of a flower slowly blooming, or a brook flowing through green space. This feeling is warped in such an interesting way by a very synthetic sound, similar to a harpsichord. The chords carry on, unaffected by the strong contrasting sound. Quaid pushes a timid, muddy sound carefully into the mix. The track evokes that sense of tranquility achieved in new age music, the artist seems intent on cooing the listener into a state of calm and repose.
Dinner with Angela brings back that clumsy Detroit House sound. Dirty bass begins a call and response with a female voice repeating the word ‘okay’. A glittery lead stumbles about, taking its cues from the rhythm. It stabs out at points, dissonant notes included in its dynamic playing style. This lead is then contrasted by a quieter organ sound, timidly playing alongside the heavily rhythmic sequence.
We pull in finally, to City of Dreems. Emotive pads flow without a start or end, setting a heartfelt tone at the very start. A deep bassline utilises a binary of two notes, etching out a rhythm before the percussion as started. Slowly it picks up, teased into being by the welcoming nature of the pad and bass. Echoed voices sound every now and then, a gust of human vocals caught up in a dreamlike space. Slowly Quaid creates a space that almost represents the album as a whole. Thumping with the beat of the dancier songs on the album, yet still exuding that pristine, new age feeling.
Quaid’s Dreem Static showcases a dynamic and excitable talent at work. Though the album experiments in a range of sounds and styles, each song is lacquered with this dreamy glaze. As if the album as a whole exists on a higher plane of understanding. It is a hypnagogic listen, pulling from a number of interesting styles to create one beautiful whole.