Northern Texas Fantasy’s somnolent debut album, Kuwaiti Dream, evokes less Dallas or Kuwait City, and more of the whole “dream” thing.

Kuwaiti Dream, the debut album from the Lowell-based Northern Texas Fantasy (for brevity, N.T.F.), doesn’t really conjure up much imagery of either Northern Texas or Kuwait, but sure does explore the whole “dream” thing pretty thoroughly.

The album seems to be a thematically-connected run-on sentence that’s technically grammatically correct, but surreal enough to be more than that. It’s a stream-of-consciousness experience (hence “Kuwaiti Dream”, “N.T.F.”). Its twelve songs feverishly twitch — yet still comfortably coalesce — with sample-heavy, repetitive, spacey, synth-laden subordinate clauses, tied together by the album’s self-awareness of its amalgam-like, near-vaporwave M.O. In that way, Kuwaiti Dream is a sort of dreamy, lucid quilt held together by an unabashedly chaotic fabric.

That sound is pretty distinctive, making for an exhilarating listen. The whole album has a huge amount of built-up energy, periodically and carefully released through shaky, imaginative songs which behave so unpredictably that they seem they could only properly exist in, well, a dream. “Watcher” exemplifies this unpredictability, coupling erratic sampling and pitch/tone manipulation with a consistent, disco-like beat,  rendering the song as an undeniable earworm. It’s a perfect example of what James Murphy said that one time—about how, if your music makes people dance, you can do pretty much whatever else you want with it. And on Kuwaiti Dream, N.T.F. does that beautifully.

“For Peggy Lipton” sets the stage for Kuwaiti Dream; the track is one part ominous and brooding and one part stunningly elegant and lush. It boasts sparkly synthesizer drones and theremin-like mini-motifs which drolly contrast against a lower-octave, mumbling voice that suggests HAL 9000; however the song’s underpinnings give off more of an ‘80s-arcade vibe. (That humor, by the way, is not lost on N.T.F., especially with the album’s absurd song titles; see: “Banned from Chili’s.”)

Though as peculiar and oddball as the album may seem through a good number of its songs (just going down the rest of the track listing: “Aloha State,” “Hey, Coffee Eyes,” and “You Don’t Have to Crimp Your Hair” all follow a similar path to “Watcher”), Kuwaiti Dream mixes up the sound through somber “vapor-wave” ballads, jarring in their relative calmness and cathartic in their unabashed raw emotion.

And Kuwaiti Dream’s emotional evocative-ness is accentuated by N.T.F.’s pointed self-awareness that’s maintained throughout. “Sweetgirl,” “For Peggy Lipton’s” quasi-drone follow-up, sounds on the surface like grocery-store early-‘90s muzak—with its phaser-fed drum machine and just in general washed out-ness—but its lyrics blow the track out of the water, demand it attention, and give the song another whole layer of depth that transcends—even necessitates—its lucid dreaminess. It’s almost as if “Sweetgirl” acknowledges the album’s intimidating, stranger-in-a-strange-land dreamscape environment, treating it like a uniting force between the singer and the sung-about. E.g.: “I am going by the river with your picture in my pocket / I’ve got work to do but the flame won’t ignite it / I know that you’re lost on your own, too / And looking for someone to cling to.” And the song’s use of dissociative, absurd language adds even more to that sense of off-putting unfamiliarity, e.g.: “Why stay inside and watch Cusack Movies when you’ve got some bones to move?”

The best representations of dreams (or unconsciousness, in general) are often the eeriest. That seems obvious. The whole idea of our mind guiding itself without our input is pretty uncomfortable. In that way, it’s almost unfathomable. So exploring it is, at least, if nothing else: surreal.

“Accurately representing” all that doesn’t seem to be N.T.F.’s only goal here—it’s seems more like, as with most albums/artists, memorable entertainment. And while, sure, N.T.F.’s Kuwaiti Dream doesn’t really evoke much of Kuwait or Northern Texas, it taps into the whole “dreamy subconscious” oeuvre in a truly unique, memorable, creepy, yet moving way. It’s dreaming awake: frighteningly vivid and rabidly curious.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.