Dredg: The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion

By: Chase Sewell

It’s a group effort: it takes cooperation to improve our place in the world, and it takes participation from the entire band to make interesting music. Dredg‘s new album, The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion (released on June 9 on Ohlone Recordings), carefully tackles both feats. It is their fourth studio album, inspired by a Salman Rushdie essay entitled A Letter to the Six Billionth Citizen.

There are only a few bands that are able to generate excitement while you wait for the initial sounds to begin emanating from the first track. Dredg is one of them, and here they deliver. The album comes out swinging with “Pariah,” breaking new ground in the creativity department with dubbed samples of humming, prominent drum lines and abrasive, muffled verses thanks to singer Gavin Hayes. Don’t expect propulsion into new dimensions; this go ’round, class and maturity are the name of the game. This new landscape is characterized by alternating phases of periodic and chaotic dynamics, mixed with the harmonious structure and steady beauty that bestows the familiar faces of Dredg.

The hidden gems and surprises include sprinkles of funk and Southern twang, which add positivity and light to a usually serious art rock perspective. Instead of dreamy trills and horns that float throughout 2002’s El Cielo, it’s instead abrupt escapades, leaps and bounds of guitar melodies and lyrical poetry. Indeed, a listener may quickly discern that this album (deviating little from the last, 2005’s Catch Without Arms, in this regard) centers significantly around the vocals. However, the lyrics are heavy on meaning and less heavy on the metaphors. Maybe that is what the ills of this collective organism needs – fewer games and more honesty.

Utilizing the Catch Without Arms tactics, here there are further attempts at firmness and organization. These aren’t boundaries, mind you, as there is still plenty of room for some fairly unique time signatures and rhythms that appropriately convey emotion. Criticisms may include a lack of cohesiveness or an uneven flow of themes between the songs. Pitched as a concept album, one would agreeably expect a gradual revealing of direction, perhaps some play with semantics, but alas, a clear picture is never revealed – that flower never seems to perfectly bloom. Instrumentally the cohesiveness is more pronounced, aided for example by “stamps of origin,” interludes that resemble the transitional “brushstrokes” from El Cielo. In the songs themselves, there are teases of experimentation that jump around but quickly swing back to the mainstay of the song.

It seems there are many expectations we elaborate for the people whom we depend on for inspiration. In their expression they offer us both fulfillment and disappointment, sometimes simultaneously. The important thing is to dance in the ambiguity; to appreciate the surprises, to see the splendor in subtlety, to revel in your own interpretation.

“So keep moving onward…”

“Guide us through this speck in time…”

“…into the Horizon.”

JamBase | Happily Ambivalent
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