Was Dream Man crafted by a coalition of studio A-listers and Adult Swim characters? The whole thing sounds like a concept album, but, as it veers precipitously from disturbing to hilarious, it’s hard to say what the concept is–a bestiary of vivid, mutant sound images? Grounded in vertiginous, virtuosic impressions of hotel lounge grooves, the album’s many faux-exotic flourishes don’t evoke a sneering, tongue-in-cheek postmodernism, but rather seem more like enthusiastic embodiments of a much-maligned genre: furries making a wholehearted move into the zoo.
Yet few of these apparently tiki-torch-lit aural landscapes survive past the one-minute mark before they are riven with some sort of aggressive disruption, whether it be a noise-synth break, a time change announced by Tommy Babin’s electric bass, or soloistic soul cry from Drew Ceccato’s tenor saxophone. Assuming these unreal worlds and their sudden shatterings are meant to evoke the logic of dreams as they tilt from pleasure to terror, this is a record in the best tradition of the Surrealists. Yet rather than treating every shadowed crevice of the subconscious with Freudian seriousness and portent, Mayor Taco Ghost wrings maximum schatological fun from his material, transmuting topics and material that could be merely sophomoric and elevating to extremes of bizarro kink rarely seen outside of the oeuvre of John Waters.
This is a music so dense in images that it could be a sightless movie, a cinema for the ears that is crammed, David Lynch-like, with knowing pop reference. Yet, as soon as this sumptuous aural table is set, MTG overturns it, leaving behind sonic landscapes inexplicably emptied of everything but the skeleton of groove, this sudden transparency conveying menace and psychodrama. Over a creepy, loping vibraphone figure veering in and out of consonance, the album’s most cartoonish vocal characters (could it be a member of Dennis Hopper’s macabre crew from Blue Velvet?) appears on the title track, nasally whisper-crooning about “looking for me in a haystack…made of tiny penises.”
Make no mistake, not all of the album’s pleasures are so fetishistic; many are found simply in the layered sensuosity of the arrangements and the skillfully slinky, funky and extreme playing all over the album.
–The Risky Forager
Tuba – Drew Allen
Bass, snaps – Tommy Babin
Trombone – Ian Carroll
Tenor Sax, EVI – Drew Ceccato
Vibraphone – Dustin Donahue
Back-up vocals – Matt Donello
Trumpet – Paul Hembree
Back-up vocals – Bonnie Lander
Synths – Joe Mariglio
Vocals, piano, synths, claps/snaps – Bob Pierzak
Percussion – Jacob Russo
Alto Sax – Adam Tinkle
Cover artwork – Duncan Saylor
CD design – Diem Vo
Recorded at UCSD Studio A by Colin Zyskowski
Mixed/Produced by Joe Mariglio, Bob Pierzak
Mastered by Jeff Kaiser
All music/lyrics by Bob Pierzak