Don’t Blink – Running To Dreamland EP Review: Festival Jams

Some music can only be appreciated when performed live, or in a specific venue. Music festivals can be one of these places where an experimental kind of music can flourish and be enjoyed without inhibition. These are the settings where Don’t Blink was born, with a sound that evokes the same vibe in tow with the release of their Dreamland EP where no track has a runtime of less than 5 minutes. The EP itself only vaguely fits into its genre labels and packs a very avant-garde vocal performance throughout. While this choice works for a few tracks, when the EP starts with Spells and Shadows, you’ll know from the first moments whether or not this music is for you.

Spells and Shadows wastes no time, hitting the ground running with vocals and instrumentals from the top. While it’s a jarring start to the EP, the super groovy bass acts works as a good anchor to ground the chaotic tracks during the moments of harmony within the wild chaos of the vocal performance and instrumentals. The drums follow up the bassline well, but they never fail to spice it up in nearly every transition. The stringy, rambling guitars always have a life of their own with eye-popping licks and head-bobbing strums. They meet up with the vocals to emphasize the emotion is impressive, especially around the 2-minute mark. While the track explodes onto the scene, when it mellows itself out, it becomes an emotional performance with a soft aesthetic that becomes easy to get lost in. Though it never loses its edge, the chorus is emotional and its aesthetic eventually takes over the track, giving this track a unique personality.

We Stand is a track that enters with a powerful bassline that has a groove that hits the ground running, but it hits it hard. It creates a noticeably darker aesthetic that picks up when the guitar jolts it back to life, but those moments are infrequent and feel like a breath of fresh air when you hear them. This matches perfectly with the story the track tells, with lines such as “the sunset is sweet in Kyiv these days, we will die to keep here” and “they may surround us, they may grind us, here we stand with our lives in our hands” illustrating their sympathies perfectly. With such strong lyrical integrity, We Stand proves to be a stand-out track in the EP.

Five Directions In A Day is a reverb-laced track that echoes through your head right from the top where the wavy bassline quickly takes hold and never lets go. The peppy percussion and soft, stringy guitar strums combine to create an ethereal feeling that you sink into while listening. When the guitar picks up around the 2-minute mark where it doubles down on the waviness to solidify the dreamy aesthetic. Each change-up that happens in the over 7-minute track inches it more into a dreamy cinematic feeling, while the vocal performance feels just as surreal. The performance stands out around the 6-minute mark when the reverb is dropped from the vocals, making the outro a memorable one and a fitting end to the track. Five Directions In A Day stands out on this EP as being the point where the signature sound of Don’t Blink clicks and comes together, making this track one that’s easy to come back to when you want to simply sink into some music.

When A Weathervane Cries has a ramblin’ bass makes a comeback in this track but is much deeper in this track. Without the jammin’ drumline and soft guitar strumming, the sound would reach into your gut and hammer away. Within moments, however, it becomes a head-bobbing jam that springs to life around the 1-minute mark where the guitar becomes free. When it comes together, the bassline grinding down feels great when contrasted with the airy-feeling guitars while the percussions give the track a pulse that’s easy to follow. Lyrically, this track is one of the more emotional offerings on the EP. Lines from the top such as “it’s writing a scene from a forgotten dream, it’s the words you say that take your breath away” to ones in the chorus such as “It’s a sound that calls you from the inside, when the weathervane cries” are ones that fit perfectly with the signature vocal performance of the band. While it might not make it onto your playlist, When A Weathervane Cries is a track that will absolutely leave an impression on you each time you listen to it.

Running To Dreamland is not an EP for everyone. This is festival music, through and through and while it may be easy for those who frequent such events to melt into each track, the casual listener should beware. Avant-garde vocals that border on incoherent ramblings are a staple in every track and while some have lyrical integrity that is of note, if it doesn’t grab you at the beginning, it will be hard-pressed to grow on you should you choose to listen to the rest of it. For the inquisitive listener or one who can appreciate the aesthetic of this music, however, Don’t Blink’s EP has a lot to say with more than a few memorable moments that resonate deep if you look for them.

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