By Ric Leichtung and Emilie Friedlander
For just about two years, we've been hearing people in the scene buzzing about Michael Collins' Dreams. The album was rumored for release on Woodsist, and at that point the label had picked up a stable of talented artists that reflected a loose yet cohesive scene-- Real Estate, Kurt Vile, Thee Oh Sees, and Sun Araw. As luck would have it, Woodsist allegedly ended up passing, but put the Beach Boys-inspired Dreams track "Richard" on their Welcome Home compilation alongside one-offs from Ducktails, Moon Duo, and the Fresh & Onlys.
Collins gave away his first albums as Run DMT, Bong Voyage and Get Ripped Or Die Trying, for free on the Internet, and later in the form of an extremely limited cassette edition on Chocolate Bobka's Curatorial Club (also equally prophetic with its first releases from blog darlings Games and Twin Sister). But he kept Dreams decidedly close to the chest. With a hearty mention in a New York Times write-up about NY DIY staple Silent Barn, plus about 15 minutes of live footage on Pitchfork TV, the future seemed incredibly promising. But while Collins scrambled to find a good label to put out the album, time passed. Since then, the Barn closed, that video is no longer searchable on the Pitchfork mainsite, and some waste-of-space dubstep bros slapped Collins with a cease and desist after copyrighting the Run DMT name because of a waste-of-space Mortal Kombat compilation.
Collins didn't put out any new music, played less shows, and eventually withdrew from New York in favor of Baltimore. For a minute there, Run DMT slipped from the consciousness of an easily distractable scene. But last September, Collins opted to start his own cassette and home video label, Culture Dealer, and set Dreams as its first release. And it's good. Really good. Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, Dreams is composed of eleven tracks ranging from loop-based vignettes to a few more fleshed-out, traditional songs. It's easy to be wooed by the surprisingly meaty, stream-of-consciousness pop side of this album; "Romantic" recalls radio-ready '60s psych songs like "Crimson and Clover" and effortlessly captures the excitement and longing of young love, while the vaguely titular track, "Dreaming," unfurls with a sense of intimacy found in a drug-like euphoria. There are also other songs that're short and sweet, revolving around the development of a single loop, but fortunately they don't overstay their welcome.
Tracks like "Montana Mountain Groan," "Winn Dixie," and "Blondie Mothership" (the ending of which Collins pulled from the "Princess Bride" soundtrack!) harken back to Bong Voyage, where drone and noise wrestle with beat music a la J Dilla. Collins' psychedelic pallette culls from everywhere at once, and Dreams unfolds in non-linear fashion, mirroring at once the flux of dreams and the life of the mind in the age of the infinite archive. He bounces us between a series of perfectly self-contained musical environments, utopias and hells and purgatories as vivid as they are fleeting. This is music that drives home the schizophrenia and haphazardness of our world, but more importantly than that, it reminds us that just because possible worlds come and go all the time doesn't mean that they don't matter.