Anyone who thinks that it’s hard to make a statement in a song that doesn’t have any lyrics is only partially correct in their assumption – had they heard the beats that the Toronto Tabla Ensemble dispense in the new single “Dream Symposium,” I don’t know that they’d be so sure of their opinion. With scarce melodies, zero harmonies and a doomful sensation that seems to circle around every one of its decadent grooves, “Dream Symposium” is advanced musicianship meant to be consumed with no interruptions or external influences, and it’s got critics from one end of Canada to the next talking about its creators more than ever before this autumn.
The melodic elements in this track are stunning, as enticing as the dominating beat is, but never around long enough for us to dissect their textures with anything more than a cursory glance. The Toronto Tabla Ensemble seek to keep us on the edge of our seats in “Dream Symposium,” and as tense a listen as it can be in certain moments, this is a song that needs a lot of its audience’s trust in order to function as the intelligent artistic entity that it is. There’s no snoozing through this single – it’s just too chilling a composition to allow for such nonsense.
There’s a surrealism here that isn’t druggy or stone-faced in its disposition, but rather dreamy and unreal, as though we’re listening to something that was never supposed to be heard through two well-calibrated stereo speakers. It’s as close to godly music as you can get without taking a trip off the grid for yourself, and yet the stylization of the song’s most explosive beats is somehow familiar, as though it’s been hiding in plain sight this whole time. If the Toronto Tabla Ensemble had any doubters prior to this single dropping, I doubt they will once the general population gets their hands on it.
If you’ve never heard of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble before now, I’d recommend using “Dream Symposium” as a means of coming to understand their vast catalogue of music. It’s a great, compact introduction to all of the things that this band does best – creating, composing and executing – and one that belongs on any ‘best of’ compilation that the project decides to release in the future. Only time will tell for sure, but if the mainstream critics respond as well to this track as the underground community has, TTE might take a share of the spotlight that they’ve been rightfully entitled to for nearly three decades now.
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