Soaked in reverb and regret, ‘Dream State Treasure’, the solo album from Scott von Ryper is a shimmering debut from an Australian artist that has quietly established a remarkable reputation for songwriting, delivered with a degree of insouciance and cool.
‘Dream State Treasure’ is a reflective collection of sparkling melodic gems, underpinned by a shimmering acoustic bedrock, imbued with melancholia and an evocative atmosphere of late nights, excess and indulgence breaking at the edges of von Ryper’s voice. Of course his previous work has had a common element running throughout like a golden thread: a cool and detached approach. Psychedelic americana touched with a dark gothic flavour.
Throughout the album, von Ryper displays an ear for melody delivered in a theatrical studied style.
Opening track ‘Over and Over’ has a crystalline acoustic thrum under von Ryper’s barbed-wire coated vocals soaked in reverb that burns with a sort of semi-detached emotion as a Hammond organ sound murmurs under the surface and builds up to a horn-tinged crescendo.
A piano floor and string-laden walls provides a springboard for von Ryper’s haunting vocals in ‘The Devil’s Son’ – with a driving, insistent syncopated beat propelling the track that flows imperiously with an air of euphoria.
A paisley edge to ‘Getting On Home’ recalls fellow Australian legends The Church with its jingle jangle psychedelic guitars and Lennon-esque vocals while the torch song balladry of ‘Goodnight Goodbye’ is immersive as von Ryper shows the depth and flavour of his voice. ‘Lucifer’ is another dreamy atmospheric number that floats on a bed of synths with layered vocals and minimal percussion – like some sort of modern day gothic The Korgis with a gospel choir. Sublime.
‘Pulse’ takes a different turn with its motorik beat with striking acoustic guitars ringing out before distorted, dirty guitars bury the melody deep below its thunder – a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club/JAMC resonance. von Ryper says of the track:
I’ve always loved the combination of acoustic guitar layered with really distorted guitars, especially with open tunings. ‘Pulse’ is in many ways a sonic outlier on the album, given it’s use of more modern sounds like the drum machine and synth and the pace of it, but lyrically I felt like it fit the record and I’ve always loved the idea of having a few surprises on an album.
His vocals acquire a sonorous rumble against hints of wild feedback.
Of the song writing process for the album, von Ryper says
I recall at least two occasions where I awoke out of a dream and went directly to the studio to record or completely change songs. ‘Goodnight, Goodbye’ was a complete song that came that way, and ‘The Devil’s Son’ was one where I simply awoke with a clear understanding on how to rearrange and reproduce an existing song that I was struggling with. What I awoke with in my mind was a much slower, more soulful song, and played on piano, not guitar. This reinvented version then formed a sonic bond with two other existing songs, and became the essence of the entire record to me. I honestly think it was the track that made me fully realize that I now had the album I wanted to make.
‘Dream State Treasure’ is an exquisite album, an almost hallucinogenic piece – as its title suggests – being dreamy and remote at times, an arctic chill running through it occasionally, yet still being infused by heart achingly beautiful arrangements and melodies.
Out now via Tran-si-ent Records/SilverDoor Music, you can download or stream ‘Dream State Treasure’ here or purchase through the link below:
von Ryper grew up playing in various bands in Sydney, Australia in the 1990’s, having some minor success with his first group, signing to EMI at age 19. He later joined the Melbourne originated neo-psychedelia band The Morning After Girls in 2004. The band toured the U.S., U.K., and Japan multiple times over the next few years.
In 2007, von Ryper formed The Black Ryder with then partner Aimee Nash, and engineered their debut album, ‘Buy the ticket, take the Ride’. The album also featured guest players from bands such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Church, and Swervedriver.
More recently, von Ryper has been the touring guitarist with The Jesus and Mary Chain – a prefect fit. Indeed, elements of ‘Dream State Treasure’ do recall JAMC’s vastly underrated semi-acoustic album ‘Stoned and Dethroned’: where melody takes the prime seat in a vehicle driven by chiming guitars and anthemic choruses.
Feature Photograph: Yana Yatsuk