Sound — 9
Mystically, exotic electro-pop runs through the veins of Dream Aria's sophomore album, Transcend. The keyboard figments created by Don Stagg have an iridescent glow liken to Pink Floyd, and the sinuous movements of the guitar patterns act as a stimulant causing the melodies to soar and produce gaping holes of wondrous chord entanglements. Dream Aria does not have a permanent guitarist so special guests were asked to record guitar parts, one guitarist was used for each track. Some of the guitarists whom the band employed for the album are Steve Agelakos, Tim Welch, Kurt Schefter, and Jozef Pilasanovic. Each guitarist offers uniquely twined thickets and bulging spires that give the songs they contributed to, a special sonic vibration, although without lead vocalist Ann Burstyn's voice projecting such heated emotion into the songs, the album would be an ambient sea of notes that meander aimlessly. Burstyn's glistening vocal chords and inflections share a likeness to Sarah Brighman. Her vocal melodies float over the rhythmic swells of bassist Jon Casselman and drummer Garry Flint like sheets of satin. She digs in deep into the emotional pit of being tricked through Tigress, and smoothes out her vocals along the melodic atmospherics of The Secret. The guitar patterns of Pilasanovic along Compassion induce a sexy, nocturnal shading through the melody, while the angelic resonance in the melodic flourishes of Flower Duet, which is the only track not written by Dream Aria but by Leo Delibes, is reminiscent of a Jim Steinman production using larger than life chord projections, sleek ridges and shooting chord trajectories. It is a track that is befitting for an ambient-pop album and transcends archetypical staples of rock music.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics grab impressions from the emotional ethers like in Compassion when Burstyn purrs, Compassion, serenity awaits / Sleep now, the most blissful of dreams unfold, drift amidst the pure cleansing waves / Flowing ever peacefully. Burstyn's voice is so hypnotic that you believe every word that slips from her lips. The verses have healing and therapeutic powers, offering a healthy, New Age approach to living. In this way, the lyrics which Ann Burstyn writes are reflections of leading a clean lifestyle, as her words in Tigress signpost warnings about falling under the spell of deception, Danger, captured, surrender to her will / Breathless, rapture until she gets her fill / Restless, tigress, relinquish to the thrill / Healing you with her golden touch / Offering all that you've missed so much.
Overall Impression — 9
Dream Aria's album, Transcend shows many similarities to their debut album, In The Wake, but it also widens the group's breadth of ambient patinas and epic rock principles. Each song is like it's own mini-masterpiece implanting epic sounding instrumentation and vocals that bring together emo and operatic intonations. The biggest complaint critics have made about Dream Aria's music is that they cannot decide which track they want to listen to more, and that hardly makes Transcend a disappointing CD. It's nice to know that you can buy an album and enjoy every single song. That was once the motivation which drove artists to make albums, and maybe Dream Aria is old-fashioned in this way, but it is the kind of old-fashioned quality that is a good thing to have in their music.