Release Date (initial): 11 September 2001
Release Date (re-release): 2016
Everything about this release, from its title, to the names of the songs, to the band’s name, evokes feelings of traveling, of cruising at 35,000 feet, suspended over a sea of clouds on which the shadow of your plane dances like a cutout ghost. But the catch to this is that the album’s sentiment is not one of excitement, of discovering new places and people. Instead, it’s tinged with regret that loved ones are being left, that separations have just taken place and now it’s off to the great unknown. Jetlag Dreams’ eyes aren’t on the far-off horizon, but rather, on the one growing more and more distant.
This is best experienced on the aptly-titled “Runway Doubts.” The mood here is of anxiety, of breathless anticipation. Faces are pressed against the window, eyes straining to see lovers standing in the terminal, all the while knowing that they won’t be seen again for a very long time. The gentle organ and sparse piano melody capture that feeling perfectly; musically, it’s there with Sigur Rós’ sparser moments, but it stands on its own emotionally.
“A Strange Descent” captures the controlled freefall of sweeping into a new airport. There’s a tentativeness going on, the track waiting until it’s safe to engage. And even when it does so, when the drums come in, the rhythm is still hesitant and anxious. And the album closes with the gorgeous “Charles De Gaulle To Bellville,” it’s glorious opening minutes slowly giving away to offbeat rhythms, sparse piano figures, and ghostly synthwork, but it never becomes a soulless jam. By the song’s final minute, the piano is trailing off, the synths are reduced to a barely-there hum… and it just ends.
An easy way to describe instrumental music is as soundtracks for the movies in your mind. And Jetlag Dreams is no different. But here’s the movie I see. A busy airport. Families gathered at the gate to welcome back children, mothers, grandparents. And when a loved one is sighted, cameras flash and a flurry of embraces ensues. But somewhere in the midst of that are those saying bittersweet goodbyes. They exchange one last kiss, turn away, and walk towards an uncertain future, alone. That’s the movie I see.
And Jetlag Dreams is their soundtrack.
- Opuszine, 1 January 2002