Red Sunset Dreams by Mark Peters

Release date: September 16, 2022
Label: Sonic Cathedral Recordings

I have followed the trajectory of composer/multi-instrumentalist Mark Peters’ career since his early days with Engineers. He’s dipped his toes into a number of genres, but one thing has never changed: the quality of his art. This second solo album follows 2018’s Innerland and features Scottish singer Dot Allison (One Dove), pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole, and even a member of Engineers, Matthew Linley on drums (‘Sundowning’).

‘Switch on the Sky’ is the celestial opener with the airy vocals of Dot Allison. It is a perfect example of dream pop, with a twist of psych in the trippiness underpinning the sonic tapestry. A hint of banjo is the perfect complement to this soundscape and caps it perfectly. Mark and Dot also close out the record with ‘Sundowning’, and it sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a film that has yet to be made. Dot’s voice does not enter the picture until almost the 2:00 mark. There are no actual words, only her lilting voice shooting through the mix like quicksilver.

‘Golden Cloud’ is a dusty frame for the brilliance of a Western sunset, and we are treated again to banjo. It fits perfectly into the sepia-toned wonder of this song. ‘Silver River’ is a cowboy’s lullaby, with BJ Cole’s pedal steel at the helm. His mastery of his instrument turns this instrumental treatise into an otherworldly experience. ‘Dusty Road Ramble’ is a virtual kaleidoscope of sound, and resembles a fast trot more than a ramble. I like when Mark lets psychedelia edge his compositions like a fine filagree, as he excels in this genre.

‘The Musical Box’ is relatively straightforward, and would slot in perfectly on any Engineers record. I cannot help but compare some of this to his early work as I loved it so, especially that first Engineers album. That came out of nowhere and blew my mind. Now things are tempered, but we have the excellence of this new work to enjoy. ‘Tamaroa’ is a sad, ambient tone poem, and the emotion it imparts is moving. The pedal steel and banjo curl around each other like a fine mist on the coolness of an autumn day. ‘Red Sunset Dreams’ is the title track, and it calls your mind to a landscape that ends abruptly on a jagged cliff overlooking the sea.

This entire suite of songs is a peaceful journey in this gorgeous but brutal world we live in, but it is a balm for the senses and is a definite high point for Mark Peters. Highly recommended!

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