Music

Karma: Latenight Daydreaming

In its second incarnation, the German downtempo/electronica duo grows up and makes one of 2006's most memorable albums.


Karma

Latenight Daydreaming

Label: Compost
US Release Date: 2006-11-14
UK Release Date: 2006-10-23
Amazon
iTunes

You could hardly ask for a better rebirth than this. Karma, namely the German duo of Lars Dorsch and Tom Dams, has been doing business in the downbeat electronica realm for nearly 15 years. In a past life, they've done their share of remixes, released several albums -- now mostly out of print -- and had some success in the clubs. But that all pales in comparison to Latenight Daydreaming. Five years in the making, it's essentially a debut, albeit one of such maturity and sophistication as only veterans could produce.

The album's title is about as concise a description as you could get for the music within. Latenight Daydreaming is a soundtrack for that near-magical window between dead of night and dawn; a downtempo, warm, cozy, womb-like, delicate, fragile, gentle salve to get you through the comedown, or whatever it is you need to get through before you can rest. Massive Attack's Blue Lines is usually cited as ground zero for this sound, although fellow Bristolians Alpha provided the more organic, wide-eyed blueprint that Latenight Daydreaming follows. Dorsch and Dams, however, find more of a middle ground between Alpha's often-meandering soundscapes and pop conventions. Also, they are more audibly influenced by jazz and folk music than their British counterparts, employing acoustic guitars, brushed snares; and, most effectively, swelling Hammond organ.

True to "comedown music" form, Dorsch and Dams bring in an international trio of vocalists to help articulate their musical impressions. None are particularly distinguished, but they all have nice voices that never threaten to steal the show from the carefully constructed music. Brit Jerome Stokes lends opener "All You Ever Wanted" a soulful touch with his loose, high-pitched delivery. The song is a strong example of the promising new sort of "expressionist soul" that Andre 3000 and Gnarles Barkley have proved so adept at -- with a bit of Seal mixed in. It's too bad that it marks Stokes' only appearance. American Michelle Amador fronts the plaintive, acoustic guitar-led "Are We?" as well as one of Latenight Daydreaming's best songs, "Home". Opening with a gently melodic guitar line and shimmering vibes, it features a jazz-inflected Amador celebrating:

Sweet hope in the life of a new day

Bright eyes of a brand new baby

Sheer joy in the promise of maybe.

If this can't convince you that everything's going to be OK, nothing will. It's bliss with heart.

Berlin-based Oezlem Çetin presides over Latenight Daydreaming's more accessible moments. "Fly" actually features major acoustic guitar chords and an uptempo chorus that you could sing along to. With Çetin sounding like a more intelligible Liz Fraser, the song comes across as a sort of latter-day Cocteau Twins pop song. It'll do for a label-placating single, but it doesn't quite fit in with the album's sedate atmosphere. "Father, Father" is another near-pop moment, but Dorsch and Dams overcompensate for the straightforward melody with a bizarre time signature. These quibbles are made insignificant by a track like "The Way You Are". Çetin delivers the album's best vocal performance in support of this heart-stopping ballad, which goes from simple piano chords to an ascending, exultant chorus that tingles more than a few nerves.

A handful of instrumentals rounds out Latenight Daydreaming. They're predictably subtle and provide some changes of pace, though only the aptly-titled "Requiem" leaves a lasting impression. When you reflect upon it, Latenight Daydreaming is remarkably eclectic given how well it creates and holds its warm, inviting atmosphere. Unlike Alpha's albums, it can't be experienced as one long, continuous composition. However, it's the strength of some of the individual songs that make it one of the year's most indispensable releases.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.