Conceptually fascinating and musically eclectic somewhat beyond belief – an aptly-titled Make Believe introduces composer and artist Dalrymple in a bold, immersive and unforgettable fashion.
The multi-instrumentalist Dalrymple lights up the space with fearless creative expression, blending a multitude of sounds, ideas, moods and moments. Make Believe offers a complex arena of extended emotions and stories that take perhaps more than a single visit to truly delve into, but which connect in their own artistically unique and forever interesting ways.
Despite the theatrics and intrigue of the opening moments, In My Youth quickly progresses from its medieval and poetic introduction, to a brilliantly bright and infectious chorus of voices for the hook, and all of a sudden we’re absorbed and in love with the music and the effectiveness of its working towards a certain purpose.
The five-minute-plus composition even veers off into tribal-like Bond corners for a world-music-kissed and passionate final third that completely surprises. And this freedom, this appeal and addictive energy, sets the pace for the entire project.
Featuring a myriad of instruments from keys to live drums to flutes, recorders, horns, choirs of voices, with fragments of harp, grand marimba, trumpet, to name just a few, Make Believe welcomes an extended group of musical talents to take part in its brilliance.
Consider the acoustic marching purity and simultaneous passion and intensity of Six Conjuring Candles, sung by Drag City recording artist Dawn McCarthy of Faun Fables, not multi-layered but epic by nature and infectious by melody, and we’re almost into the meat of the creation.
Aside from the musically powerful arrangement, Make Believe follows the lead of a selection of deeply contemplative, symbolically rooted lyrics, the likes of which are precisely what stands out with more prominence as you revisit each track. In example, one song – The Stolen Child – is set to the poetry of W.B. Yeats, and another features excerpts from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
The whole thing begs for you to witness the stage version – the live action performance – but of course, you don’t need to. The point is to imagine, to let the music take you there, and with the authenticity and stage-ready captivation of tracks like The Blessing Of Pan, the project makes light work of this process.
Fall To Sleep afterwards also proves well-placed for its acoustic guitar lead and breathy, distant vocal choir – even the mellow swagger of the rhythm. Then we’re reminded of the stories, the legends and the characters that inspired it all, as GogMagog quickly redirects things for a yesteryear and other-worldly, round the fire kind of melodic back and forth of simple yet striking imagery and scenes.
Some moments are decidedly simple in this way, minimalist even – Musica Poetica for example, just a couple of ingredients, but with a rather uninhibited and again vast implication. Other moments take full advantage of the orchestral power of the group dynamic, of unlimited intricacies throughout a composition across pages and pages of tale.
On a perhaps basic level, I was occasionally prompted to consider the world of Dungeons and Dragons, but ultimately it’s poetry and literature, theatre, legend, that inspires the work – and Dalrymple takes full command of the realm.
In his own words: “Make Believe gives voice to a vibrant language of symbolism and poetic incantation; the written word is painted with playful splashes of myriad hue and texture. Here the instinctive soul takes precedence over the ordinary and yields new forms of insight, which stretch the ears toward unforeseen fragments of a once clouded memory.”
You need to hear it, experience it in full, to comprehend and benefit from its vastness and focus united. Wonderfully unusual, musically supreme, refreshingly original. Make Believe celebrates imaginative play and poetic depth in the most skilful and openly passionate manner.
The Album Make Believe is available via the Dalrymple Website as a double vinyl LP housed in a gatefold jacket, featuring cover art by Benjamin Vierling. It’s also available as a CD and digital download.