The strange, strangely unstable realm of dreams has fascinated and inspired artists probably since humans first began to dream, or to make art. Even if we believe they have nothing to tell us—no messages from the gods or the unconscious, or the dead—their often weird images and incongruities of mood can be a source of raw material or a dictionary of occult—as in idiomatic—significances from which to draw. Ingrid Laubrock’s aptly titled Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt, a two-CD set of compositions arranged on disc one for chamber orchestra and five soloists and on disc two for small groups, presents contemporary sounds inspired by the oneiric world. Laubrock kept a dream diary for many years; the compositions on Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt represent her way of translating into music the moods or states of mind of the dreams recorded in her diary.
The album contains five compositions, each of which is performed in two different versions, one for the chamber ensemble and one for the small group consisting of a core trio of Laubrock on tenor and soprano saxophones, Cory Smythe on quarter-tone keyboard and piano, and Sam Pluta on electronics, augmented at different times by Adam Matlock on accordion, Josh Modney on violin and Zeena Parkins on electric harp. The chamber orchestra is an eighteen-piece group of strings, reeds and brass that serves as a setting for soloists Laubrock, Pluta and Smythe as well as drummer Tom Rainey and double bassist Robert Landfermann. Laubrock wrote first for the small group, and then constructed her versions for chamber orchestra from fragments of the original versions. The versions for chamber orchestra tend to situate the five soloists as a group-within-the-group; the contrasts between their improvisations and the orchestrated passages for the ensemble capture something of the startling juxtapositions and emotional volatility of dreams. In the leaner, tightly focused context of the small group the music comes through in a particularly vivid way. The improvised sections stand out against the composed passages with a sharp clarity, while the generous use of space and variable textures and dynamics gives the soloists openings they readily exploit to create lines of timbral complexity and emotional depth.