“Getting into the zone for The License To Interpret Dreams is difficult at first. Opener A Fragile Acceptance sets the rulebook right away; there are no hooks or choruses to speak of. Just a lone piano, striking as if it were a clock at noon, fading in and out of the patchwork before waves of mournful strings come in and draw you fully into the ocean. The Siren, Hopelessly Lost is just as glacially morose, content to take its sweet time incepting you into this cloudy, mystical world Antonymes has built. But those who are willing to take the plunge with him will be rewarded handsomely with one of the most quietly powerful albums of the year.
For those unfamiliar with this ambient artist’s mantra, here’s a snippet from his Bandcamp:
‘Antonymes’ music emerges from the adjustments and erasures where music expresses nothing but itself, from the relationship between continuity and repetition rather than of contract and interplay, from secrecy, from quietness, from pause, from thought, from emptiness, from time, from far off, from itself, from where it is set and where it is setting off to..’
The Licence To Interpret Dreams largely reflects this emphasis on empty spaces. Save a few lively moments, Antonymes isn’t so much a party rocker as he is a philosopher—all twelve of these tracks are sparse compositions, deeply detached and yet completely personal. You, the listener, have been plucked from your spot in the bustling chaos of modern life, and all this dude wants is to take a walk with him into the forest of his—and your—mind.
Generally, the moments where Antonymes tries to step outside this backdrop are where the album suffers. Oradour-Sur-Glane is inches from submerging you completely with its bits of music box melodies floating in a bubbling lake of synths, yet the voice sample utilized here is a rare step into indulgence for Antonymes. As a result, instead of falling completely under his spell, you’re shocked awake at jilted, startling intervals. Doubt commits a bit more fully to the gimmick, thus coming closer to fooling you into assimilating it with the rest of the landscapes back here, but the voice sample just doesn’t fit in with the isolation at display here; it’s a slab of concrete amidst a forest of trees. The end of the track works the best, when the philosophical snippets aren’t spelled out for you but fade into the background, leaving you to find the stories behind them yourself.
When Antonymes lets the music speak for itself, though, this is an absolutely captivating dream. Womb Of The Great Mother begins slowly before gradually building, then whittling itself down until you can almost taste the melancholy. Even the shorter tracks are moving in their own little ways: A Light From The Heavens layers repetitions upon repetitions, the tension cresting until it hits a brutal peak.
Towards the end of your sojourn, you’re offered a few rays of sun: Endlessly is just as minimalistic as what came before it, but it’s a rare moment of peace in an environment full of angst. The Door Towards The Dream, too, is solemnly uplifting, replete with horns, strings, and a choir section. The sentiment isn’t awash in gaudy Hallmark-card sap, though, and after an album’s worth of deliberation, reaching the end of the tunnel is a worthy reward.
More and more, it seems like there simply isn’t any way for one to escape the spectacles of daily life. The value of silence—taking a few minutes to think about things, about the world, about yourself, even—has all but been forgotten. Sometimes, you have to tune everything out and find yourself again, though, and when you do so, Antonymes is the guy that’ll lead the way.”