Surface Hoar is Minneapolis?s Matthew Amundsen, and ?These Terrible Dreams? is his first full-length record. Don?t let the nightmarish sound of the name full you; this is not dark music per se. Rather, it?s very minimal, very quiet, and very abstract, often frustratingly so. In some sort of experimental new version of a radio play, ?These Terrible Dreams? attempts to sound out a queen bee?s lifespan, albeit non-narratively. At its best, the music here vibrates in a droning meditation, at its weakest, it might be mistaken for a sound-effects record.
Amundsen certainly gains points for creativity, as much of the sound contained in these 30 minutes is generated by ?appliances, pot lids, screen doors, wooden clothers racks, wine glasses, and birdsong.? Sure enough, about 20 seconds in ?Stabbing Sisters,? a bird chirps brightly over subdued repetitive bleeps and squawks, switching o a clunky outro that is more percussive than melodic. From there, ?Orgy in the Sky? begins with a loop not unlike rave music sans its driving beat, quickly shifting to nothing but the beat, and back again.
Needless to say, everything seems out of place here. There are moments of near-sublime monotonous layering, particularly the very good closing track, ?Swarm of Die!? All too often, however, the sounds change a bit too quickly, like brief flashes of color within a vast blank space. Unfortunately, it leaves little to focus on, and its adventurous concept seems unable to stand on its own. If Amundsen can manage to somehow structure his sounds into something more cohesive, future Surface Hoar releases might be something to watch. This record, however, will leave many scratching their heads. Because while it?s all here (the cool sounds, the cool concept, the cool experimental attitude), it?s not woven together quite right. Maybe it takes more time, but alas, a lifespan is only so long. 6/10 -- Jon Pitt (31 October, 2007)