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Dredg El Cielo album cover
4.10 | 279 ratings | 42 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Brushstroke: Dcbtfoabaaposba (0:57)
2. Same Ol' Road (5:15)
3. Sanzen (4:34)
4. Brushstroke: New Heart Shadow (1:34)
5. Triangle (5:02)
6. Sorry But It's Over (4:08)
7. Convalescent (3:32)
8. Brushstroke: Walk in the Park (1:41)
9. Eighteen People Living in Harmony (4:30)
10. Scissor Lock (3:21)
11. Brushstroke: (Reprise) (1:32)
12. Of the Room (3:44)
13. Brushstroke: An Elephant in the Delta Waves (1:47)
14. It Only Took a Day (3:17)
15. Whoa Is Me (5:36)
16. Canyon Behind Her (6:40)

Total Time: 57:07

Line-up / Musicians

- Gavin Hayes / vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin
- Mark Engles / guitars
- Drew Roulette / bass
- Dino Campanella / drums, piano

- Nate Hayes / vocals (5)
- Ron St. Germaine / vocals (5), co-producer
- Azam Ali / vocals (13)
- Los Angeles Master Chorale / chorus vocals (16)
- Michael Geiger / choir arrangements (16)
- Rohan Gregory / violin (5,8,9)
- Reinmar Seidlar / cello (5,8,9)
- Igor Tkachenko / string arrangements (5,8,9)
- Zack Hexum / saxophone (15)
- Greg Ellis / percussion

Note : The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

Artwork: Rohner Segnitz

CD Interscope Records ‎- 0694934382 (2002, US)
SACD Interscope Records - B0000798-36 (2003, US)

2xLP Self-released - DRDGEC1000-LP00 (2012, US) New cover art
2xLP Interscope Records - 069493438-2 (2012, US)

Thanks to xhamasaki for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DREDG El Cielo ratings distribution

(279 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

DREDG El Cielo reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by con safo
5 stars A masterpiece. Sorry, but there is no compromise for me. I love this album with every ounce of my soul, and with good reason. El Cielo is an album about a rare disorder called "Sleep Paralysis" where one wakes up, but cannot move or speak, and may experience immensely frightening things, or very sublime and calm things. This album covers all of those. From its most intense to the most beautiful passages, this album is a real achievement. The band shows obvious talent through the whole album, from the most jarring (Of The Room) to the most beautiful (Brushstroke: Walk In The Park) the bands instrumental prowess is very evident. Gavin Hayes' vocal performance is astounding, you can feel the emotion in every note, a very soothing voice.

If you've heard Leitmotif beforehand, you'll notice a large change in their sound. Gavin uses his voice very differently and the music if much more melodic and tight. Leitmotif was an excellent record, but El cielo is leaps and bounds ahead, a massive improvement. Some standout tracks are "Triangle" , "Scissor Lock" , "Eighteen people live in harmony" and the BRILLIANT and epic closer "The Canyon Behind her" - my definite favourite off the album. Dredg create a wall of sound, chaotic yet beautiful, reaching the highest peaks and the lowest valleys. Turn off the lights, put on some headphones, and lose yourself in this amazing album.

-con safo

Review by lor68
4 stars I'm writing the present review in coincidence with the first date of the US band in Milan-Italy (at "Transilvania Live") dated September, 19 2005, so I'm glad to proceed: it's an intricate concept-work regarding a famous picture by Salvador Dalì, whose melancholic mood, as well as a kind of such a surreal "game" of their own, let them play it as one of the best post rock albums of 2002 (perhaps the best one)!! By thinking of the incredible title of the original picture, concerning "The flight of a bee all around a pomegranate, just a moment before awakening.", here you understand their aim! In fact if you regard of the first phase of their remarkable career, when They started playing according to the mood of bands such as Tools, you still note their huge versatility. their music references, going from the classic hard rock-genre, passing through a "jazzy" post rock and even a few funky breaks-through, have been always regarded as a modern contamination, among the most interesting different music styles!! Of course nowadays their approach is more commercial, in the song-format, which is not bad anyway.ok, honestly I don't like the dissonant guitar breaks-through in the vein of Mogway, even though their tones are a bit Pink Floyd-oriented and sometimes closer to Radiohead, which make their style interesting: in particular the vocalism by Haynes is emotional and it's strange that their experimental method- regarding their personal composition - has often been relegated into a normal post rock or grunge music-genre (generally labelled as "crossover"-style); instead by means of this album They showed a different dimension in their music.

If you like the already mentioned bands above, or also the ensemble of Porcupine Tree, you must choose this "El Cielo": otherwise you could be interested in something a bit different, like- for instance- the stuff by Don Caballero, which is closer to my music taste. However make your own choice once again, as you could give it a 3 stars score!!

Review by FishyMonkey
5 stars Absolutely a masterpiece. Usually I think a little bit when that little message comes up warning about five-star ratings, but this time, no hesitation. This is one of the best modern prog albums ever created, period.

This album shifts moods, atmospheres and styles faster than you can blink. One second you're in the middle of a gorgeous piano solo, the next second, you're in a powerful heavy rock song, and then again a trippy, wholly psychadelic song, then a jazzy light rock song. And Dredg manages to play all styles flawlessly, while tying in the theme of the album seamlessly. These guys are seriously talented, with their drummer, while not having near the chops of other drummers, is one of the finest modern drummers in terms of pure creativity. For examples, the last song, "The Canyon Beyond Her" has some phenomenal drumming. The creativity as a whole of the album is, as I said, stunning because of the changing styles and moods. And the concept is really really interesting, as is the manual...if you can decifer the handwriting.

The album is made up of 11 songs and 5 Brushstroke songs, which are short musical interludes of various styles. One just recaps the main melody of another song with a cool feel, one is a piano solo, one has an awesome Indian feel, one is just a really beaitufl song, and another is the first track, which is kinda filler, but it serves its purpose as an introductory piece. The whole Brushstroke idea originates from the concept of the album, which I should probabaly explain too.

The album revolves around two things: sleep paralysis and a Salvador Dali painting called Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee Around A Pomegranate One Second Before Awakening (thus the acronym for the first Brushstroke). Sleep paralysis is a quite horrible thing that happens to people where their body more or less wakes up from the REM stage of sleep too fast, so their body hasn't recovered from sleep and is still in the paralyzed state, but their mind (and eyes) are wide awake. Commonly during this are auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations, a sense of dread and death, horrible images and terror, shadows and evil laughter...nasty stuff. Maybe if you're lucky, however, more calming things will happen in form of hallucinations, like I dunno, your long-dead mother or something appearing next to your bed to comfort you and get you back to sleep. It's a very interesting and somewhat frightenign phenomenon often linked to lucid dreaming, hwich is also touched on in this album.The lyrics to "Scissor Lock" sum it up pretty well. White noise is also a common thing, which is kinda where the Dali painting comes into play. Dali's wife suffered from slepp paralysis, and described as 1000 bees buzzing aorund her...I believe, I may be wrong on that one, so the painting Dali made kinda revolves around that as well as Dali's own trippy style.

The songs themselves are fantastic. Songs like Same Ol' Road and Of The Room are more in the style of Catch Without Arms with some of the heaviness of Leitmotif. These are catchy, single-type songs and are fantastic. Songs like Convalescent and Eighteen People living in harmony are just basically slightly less heavy versions of Same Ol' Road and Of The Room with a much more proggy twist in them. Meanwhile, songs like It Only Took a Day, Scissor Lock, and I'm Sorry But It's Over are a little more on the bleak side of the album and create a good atmosphere, much helped by Gavin's excellent voice. Sanzen and Triangle are more on the trippy side and use lots of sounds to help along the song and many tempo changes and mood changes, Triangle being the most interesting (not the best) song on the album. Lastly, The Canyon Behind Her and Whoa Is Me are probably the proggiest songs on the album, Teh Canyon Behind Her being simply epic and a beautiful closer, and Whoa Is Me flirting heavily with jazz with the Dredg songwriting style thrown in there. All the songs are rather ethereal-feeling and give you a sense of being transported into another dimension, kinda like...say, Devin Townsend's albums, although this transports you to a completely different place than say, Terria.

Honestly, there is no weak link on this album. It took quite a bit of time to grow on me, like all of Dredg's albums have, but once I began to appreciate it, it was bliss. I've waited nearly two months to review this, I was so lost on what to say. But now, I've never been more sure. This is a msterpiece. Every song stands out on its own. I cannot point a finger at a track and say it's the worst. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probabaly be the closer, The Canyon Behind Her, but even that is highly debatable for me.

You must own this. For those who believe no one is doing anything creative or creative, not even Opeth or Dan Swano or Porcupine Tree or Devin Townsend or Pain of Salvation or The Flower Kings or Riverside or Transatlantic...whatever you may think of, this may just be the album to change your mind.

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars As I've listened the first time to the entire "El Cielo" by Dredg, I was completely speechless. I've just layed back and wondered what I've listened there right now. To write music inspired by a picture of Salvador Dali means a avant-garde styled kind of music, which Dredg also delivers on here, but is also accessible at the same time. "El Cielo" as a whole is art rock in very true sense of the word with beautifully played parts, a warm and very deep voice in person of Gavin Hayes, very artistic arrangements like a saxophone, piano or mandolin. After listening some more times to the entire disc, there is one thing clear for me: One of the most fullfilled and exciting experiences in terms of rock music I ever went through. The record needs to be heard in full length and acquires some listening sessions to really show off it's intensity in terms of art and ambition that the band presents in a unique form on "El Cielo". No compromises are given to me not giving this beautiful piece of art 5 stars and it really earns it. An album that actually can be called as totally unique and artistically acclaimed masterpiece of modern (not neo) progressive rock. The song that really impressed me the most is the final piece "The Canyon Behind Her", which ends in one of the most haunting and touching finales I've ever heard.

Describing the music on the album wouldn't be representable at all, this must be listened, over and over again in full length, at best under headphones to spend full attention to the sound scapses and melodies, which give the songs the important character and breath of life. It's confirming to see, how this band changes the skin from record to record. Where "Leitmotif" shows the hard edged songwriting skills of the group, lives "El Cielo" through the atmospheres and artistic perfection, and their final album "Catch Without Arms" shows their simplier, lighter and accesible approach. Dredg is a band which is like a chameleon, you don't know what comes next. Dredg has a very promising future, "El Cielo" is their outstanding achivement, but I really enjoy any style of their sound. Truely a progressing band, which seems to be the biggest hope of future prog music as far as I am concerned. Please get this album and take some intensive listens on it. This isn't only music, it's something like conserved art.

9.5/10 points = 96 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music

Review by hdfisch
3 stars First of all this is certainly a very nice album and secondly there's a highly intellectual ambitious idea behind. The band tries to paint musically Salvador Dali's famous picture Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee Around A Pomegranate One Second Before Awakening (the one with the naked woman and the two tigers since no one will remember this title). The overall topic is Sigmund Freud, subconsciousness, the significance of dreams and a rare disease called Sleep Paralysis which is very nicely documented in the booklet by letters of patients. They are even cited under Dali's painting in Wikipedia. All these facts are quite impressing and as well I found it very interesting to read the letters. Unfortunately I can't claim the same for the music offered here. In some way I feel paralysed between this sophisticated background and a kinda music that reminds me mostly to alternative pop-rock.

Unlike most of the reviewers here who are just uncritically praising this record I'd like to follow the more unusual approach for such concept albums and will try to analyse the songs here without regarding the work as a whole piece of art.

Let's start with the brushstrokes since these six pieces or interludes I like the most of all and find them the most interesting ones from the musical point of view. The album starts with the sounds of painting a picture and one could almost cite from one of the letters: ".the audio was constant, buzzing like monotonous tribal chants". Second brushstroke (track 4) sounds quite similar to the style that Swedish band PAATOS is doing, as well a bit Post-Rock-alike, a short, but very nice instrumental piece. "Walk in the Park" (track 8) is played on piano accompanied by some strings, also a very pleasant highly classically influenced piece. "Brushstroke Reprise" (track 11) is a nice combination of electronic with acoustic guitar having as well some vocals. The last brushstroke "An elephant in the delta waves" (track 13) is a rather ethnic one with mandolin and some female chanting. Very pleasant one as well and the title is a nice reference to Dali's painting. From the remaining 11 tracks more or less only "Of the room", "Who is me" , the proggiest one having some sax playing and the final track are really able to fascinate me slightly. During listening to most of the songs I feel reminded to dozens of bands coming from the alternative pop/rock genre like A PERFECT CIRCLE, MUSE, DEPECHE MODE or VAST. Though sounding certainly better than any of those ones I couldn't call them more than just nice, but not that special either. Worst one is for sure "Convalescent".

I'm a bit split in my opinion about this band I've got to say. On the one hand they are showing a highly sophomore approach and for sure big artistic talents. On the other hand there are too obvious pop elements in their music what's even confirmed on their latest release. I'd wish they would follow more a musical style they're playing in the brushstroke pieces, then I could imagine them to be a great band in the Post-Rock genre. I'm still hoping that I like a bit more their "Leitmotif" album which I could not listen to so far.

Since I'm obviously the only one here rating this album lower than 4 stars and though I can usually enjoy modern music as well maybe I should make the further note:


Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars Very enjoyable record. A collection of good songs done in a similar style about the topic of sleep paralysis (yes it's a concept album). The songs may be basic but the singing is not.The highlight of this record for me is the amazing vocals of Gavin Hayes. The drums play an important role as well, and are prominant. The guitar, although very active doesn't standout in the way of solos or riffing.

Highlights for me are "Same Ol' Road" with nice drumming and soothing vocals. "We must be strong" is a very catchy line in that song. The vocals are so good on "Sanzen". Another good song is "Triangle". "People are born in the same place they go to pass away" is an interesting, thought provoking line. "Canyon Behind Her" the last song is quite infectious as well. Almost an anthem like chorus that cries "Does anybody feel this way, does anybody feel like I do".

There is some nice piano and keyboard playing throughout this record as well. Good record, just don't fall asleep people.

Review by OpethGuitarist
3 stars Brushstrokes.

The most artistic Dredg release to date, El Cielo captures many elements of prog and intelligent modern rock bands - most noticeably the album has qualities of Muse and Radiohead - to create their best release. Before we go further though, I must warn, as others have, that this is not the record for the prog geezers, having far more connections to music of today than to the prog giants of the past as bands like Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, and etc. have shown.

I guess I would look at this as the alternative to The Mars Volta if you are looking to get into a modern and accessible prog band. El Cielo would be enjoyed by many, even non-prog fans, for it's ability to capture the listener with some very intriguing melodies, and smooth vocal lines that are particularly outstanding, and the best part of the album. The production is also extremely well done, much more so than their previous album.

I'll quit being nice though, and tell you that despite this album really being a creative and good album, it just doesn't do it for me. I find other modern acts like Radiohead far more interesting, and the poppier quality of the material wears thin on me. However, I would recommend this to all young prog fans who feel any kind of connection to modern society, as I believe you would find this quite to your liking.

Review by Prog-jester
3 stars I may be one of those few ones who prefer “Catch without Arms” to “El Cielo”. Both have something to boast with – this release is a more balanced and conceptual (based on Dali-related themes), while “Catch…” has incredible pieces like eponymous song, “Planting Seeds”, “Ode to the Sun” etc as well as fillers. DREDG is not your usual Prog Rock band, they are more alternative and indie, but as soon as they are here, they are worthy of some attention. I like some songs from them, they remind of early MARS VOLTA a bit, but with a slight shade of RADIOHEADic intelligence. Recommended, but beware – this is Modern Prog, so don’t expect epics or fairytales here.
Review by progrules
3 stars I have a hard time deciding what to do with or say about this album. Problem is that I can hear that it's objectively a great conceptual piece of art but subjectively it almost leaves me cold. That's in a nutshell what this is about. The problem for me probably is that I not only have a bit of a problem with this band or album but more with this kind of music in general. Resembling bands like Radiohead, Muse and Gazpacho don't do it for me either so at least I'm consistent at this.

Another thing is that I don't like shorter songs that tend more in the direction of pop compared to the beloved epical treats in my collection. I could try to see this album as one big epic because it's an obvious concept album but then still it lacks the style and sound that I prefer. There are hardly any instrumental solos to be found here though some modern sound effects almost seem to try to compensate that. Strongest aspect of this entire release are the vocals to me. Finally one of those rare bands that have a very good vocalist and added to the interesting lyrical concept it can be marked as strongest features of this El Cielo release.

But I'm afraid it's not enough to win me over. And I also tend to agree with Sinka's comment about the warning not to fall asleep. Not that it's that boring but it has a bit of dreamy atmosphere around it and when the volume is turned low it could indeed lead to dozing off... Three stars is really the best I can do and round off with the comment that this is another album that divides the prog community somewhat. Not everyone's cup of tea obviously.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another modern prog success.

My first DREDG experience was their most recent album, "Catch Without Arms". I failed to hear the progressive factor in it, even though after repeated listens the album grew on me and I managed to discover a few hints of greatness.

"El Cielo", on the other hand, is a much more progressive album which also features better songs and more beautiful melodies than its successor. The first thing one notices with this band is the fact that they play simple rock, yet artsy rock at the same time. Songs here are of average length (around 4 minutes), with few (if any) complex sections of odd time signatures or brilliant displays of technique. At first glance, the music is only slightly more prog than in their latest record. But one has to dig, to read between the lines to find the real magic in "El Cielo".

That magic lies in the amazing textures, in the especial details, in the writing of songs that act as part of a bigger whole, a concept album of great emotional impact. The art in DREDG is to write simple songs that build a larger structure, an album structure, one that starts in point A, the first song, to end in point B, the last one, where all parts are steps in a musical ladder, when each of them is dependent of the rest but at the same time can survive as single songs. The album that thus is created feels like a masterfully-planned rock journey, where the climax at the end is the normal, logical consequence of the build-up elaborated from the first track.

The music is very melodic, with strong pop sensibilities. One is constantly reminded of bands like MUSE, RADIOHEAD, but also of artists like DEPECHE MODE. In fact, the vocals bear a very strong resemblance to those of David Gahan, singer of the last-mentioned band. Prog-fans familiar with South- American rock/pop would agree with me that the voice of DREDG's vocalist is almost exact to that of Cuevas from Chilean band LA LEY. The musicianship from the rest of the band is high, especially in the songwriting side of things. These musicians can craft a tune, there's no question about it, and can support it with layers of pianos and guitars that add atmosphere and a special feeling of being high, of being near "El Cielo" (The Sky or Heaven, in Spanish). One feels that clouds and an intense color blue are surrounding the listener at all times.

The album is excellent. My only minor complaints would be the small similarity between many of the songs, which makes it difficult to distinguish some of them. Other than that, a few less-than-great tracks don't warrant bringing the rating down any more than one star. So, 4 stars it is for DREDG's "El Cielo", an album that those who love art-rock that's simple, modern and melodic should necessarily listen to.

Review by Zitro
4 stars Sophisticated Indie Rock album about sleep paralysis, a terrifying condition where you wake up paralyzed and hallucinating for a brief period of time.

The guitars and vocals sound like indie rock at its best, and add to that excellent dreamy sounds, sophisticated arrangement, and progressive rock influences. The end result is a highly accessible modern album that should be essential listening to indie rock and underground fans, especially the youth audience. That does not mean that middle age symphonic rock fans should brush this off, it's just THAT good!

The album features average-length songs (with very catchy choruses) and short transitional and generally dreamy pieces referred to as 'brushstrokes'. These brushstrokes always sound good to my ears and help bring a better flow to the album (An Elephant in the Delta Waves is fantastic). The real songs of the album are generally excellent and differ from each other, helping make this an eclectic album. I already mentioned the wonderful guitars and vocals, but the other instruments are quite special. Keyboards are rarely used and in the background, used in the right spots. The drumming is very competent and never distract from the music. Other instruments are sometimes used, like saxophone and the mandolin. Last, but not least, the bass guitar is a very important element in the album. You can already notice the bass leading the rhythm in Same ol' Road.

It's hard saying which are the best songs. It's a quite consistent album in terms of quality. However, I could say that I find Triangle and The Canyon Behind Her highlights and that Convalescent is the weak point in the album.

Overall, a very accessible album that holds your interest after several listens. However, your most enjoyable spins are likely to be the first ones.

Review by ProgBagel
5 stars Dredg ? 'El Cielo' 5 stars 'Art rock'

Easily in my top 10 albums or higher, but not my favorite due to personal taste, but I will hesitate to call the THE PERFECT album. It contains everything an omnipotent album should have, excellent flow, beautiful concept, emotion, power and exotic instrumentation. The album is layered with beautiful melodies and at times just soothing soundscapes. The vocals would have to be a highlight as they are one of the most peaceful and pleasant voices you can hear (like Jon Anderson). At times the album has some heavy breakouts that just can really floor you. A fine example would be 'Whoa is Me' which has goes from the heaviest part in the album to some of the most depressing lyrics. Then you have more of the interesting stuff here, chants, bells, slide guitar and the like.

My highest recommendation on this site. One of the most beautiful albums ever recorded. A true piece of art.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'El Cielo' - Dredg (9/10)

What we have here is one of the most beautiful, moving albums made in the new millenium. There seem to be alot of people who think that in order to be progressive, you must relinquish some of your emotional impact in order to be innovative and original. Someone should shut those people up, and make them listen to 'El Cielo.'

For 57 blissful minutes, the listener is taken on a brilliant musical journey concerning the medical condition known as sleep paralysis, and the power of dreams. Much of the lyrical content in 'El Cielo' revolves around testimonials and anecdotes of individuals that have either suffered or been enlightened by their reveries. Keeping this in mind, dredg beautifully weave a spectrum of emotions into the musical framework, going from feelings of devotion ('A Walk In The Park') to fear ('18 People Live In Harmony') to melancholy (the most prominent feeling in the album.)

There is such a musical integrity to this album. Despite having a very alternative-rock sound, there's alot of progressive happenings throughout the album, and alot of styles being thrown around. There are parts reminscent of a mellow maudlin Of The Well, the atmospherics and dramatic buildups of Explosions In The Sky the jazz breakdowns of the Mars Volta and alot of something that can only be described as being trademark of dredg themselves.

A total, emotional masterpiece, and one of the greatest modern progressive albums of all time.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Finding El Cielo was like discovering a diamond ring on a beach. I spotted it adjacent to Dream Theater in a brick and mortar store where I was browsing, and merely recognized the album artwork from the top 20 crossover chart. Noting the price of $5.99, I scooped it up and made way to the checkout counter, excited for my inexpensive find. I am still excited for it. After one listen, I felt the urgent need to hear it again the next day (something unusual with respect to my listening habits). After the second, I set the CD elsewhere in my home, but my mind couldn't abandon it, even temporarily. Upon seeing it, I felt a greedy compulsion welling up within me, so I snatched up the disc and relieved myself of my thirst for euphoria. At many turns, this album reminds me of Incubus or Red Hot Chili Peppers, both bands I enjoy. The musical lucidity is remarkable, even as the group introduces listeners to fresh and unforgettable melodies in every track. The loose concept of the album regards the medical phenomenon of sleep paralysis; indeed, in lieu of liner notes, there are actual letters from sufferers of the condition. The spoken word throughout are excepts from those missives. This record is highly recommended, but be warned: The melodies, hooks, and instrumental themes may very well be resonating after just one listen, leading to possible abuse of this album!

"Brushstroke: Dcbtfoabaaposba" This short "brushstroke" consists of scribbling noises and strange synthetic sounds. The strange title is an abbreviation of the painting by Salvador Dali that inspired the album: Dream Caused by a Flight of a Bumblebee around a Pomegranate One Second Before Awakening.

"Same Ol' Road" Straightforward bass and drums begin the first song. From the first time I heard that clean guitar introduce itself alongside the soft male vocals, I felt I was in for a real treat- I was not mistaken.

"Sanzen" Exquisite, delicate, and yet powerful, this song has something of an Incubus feel, with washes of various guitar-produced sounds. The chorus is perhaps the most memorable and most powerful moment of the album (although there are an array of them sprinkled throughout). When the music isn't smart rock, it's atmospheric, beautiful, jazzy, or any combination of those adjectives.

"Brushstroke: New Heart Shadow" This is a short, instrumental that makes me think of moments from the album Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

"Triangle" Distant drums and soft synthesizer begin this excellent song. The lyrics are exceedingly powerful observations about life's little ironies: "Watch it explode, while it's not impossible for flowers to bloom and grow next to graves and babies are born in the same buildings where people go to pass away." Musically, a couple of themes make an appearance here.

"Sorry But It's Over" Acoustic and clean guitar play an imaginative riff under somewhat somber vocals. The heavier chorus retains soft vocals, and haunting sounds are incorporated into the mix. This is a terrific piece that rivals similar songs from bands like Porcupine Tree.

"Convalescent" Yet another progressive pop homerun, blending both a catchy series of verses and a chorus with gritty guitar and clever instrumentation. The ending is almost self-depreciatingly funny.

"Brushstroke: Walk in the Park" This is a delicate interlude played on piano and strings- simply gorgeous.

"Eighteen People Living in Harmony" A grating guitar rubs against otherwise gentle instrumentation During an intensely soft passage in the middle brings back the scratching from the first track. Atonal squealing from the violin takes over at the end.

"Scissor Lock" Again, the lead singer offers an elegant melody, this time over soft yet upbeat music.

"Brushstroke: (Reprise)" A basic beat and unadorned keyboard is the foundation for this reprise of (despite the title), "Same Ol' Road." The second half has slide and acoustic guitars, in a way reminiscent of the section "Soon" from Yes's "The Gates of Delirium."

"Of the Room" A musical motif from "Triangle" returns here in full form and as part of a full song. Vocally, this is a powerful track, and it features some lovely ornamental guitar.

"Brushstroke: An Elephant in the Delta Waves" An unexpected Middle Eastern-sounding interlude, there's a female vocal here that's nothing less than breathtaking.

"It Only Took a Day" Here is one of the heaviest tracks on the album, swamped with distorted guitar and thick drums, but the vocals rise cleanly and sweetly above it. The instrumental section is indicative of the band's penchant for terse versatility.

"Whoa Is Me" Peaceful guitars make up the verses, and the chorus typical heavy rock. For the jazzy section at the end, there is a delicacy of placid saxophone and soothing piano. A "radio announcer" at the end talks about the piece being inspired by lucid dreaming ("The clarity of consciousness rather than the vividness of the dream"), an important aspect given the concept of the album.

"Canyon Behind Her" The final track is a stellar one, with glorious vocals and vigorous instrumentation throughout. Beautiful choral singing concludes this wonderful album.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars El Cielo offers entirely harmless prog pop that could appeal to Radiohead and Muse fans. Not so much to me though. The reason is that all songs head for a too obvious emotional impact. The singer is very competent but his melodies are predictable, pathetic and regularly whiny. There are exceptions though. "Sorry But It's Over" for example, is a very gripping indie rock song flourished with some spacey delay guitar effects you sure know from Radiohead, Editors and Interpol. Other songs that are worth a listen would be 18 People, Scissor Lock, Of the Room, It only took a day.

The music can be described as post-Radiohead indie rock with much of the mentioned echo-box guitars and an occasional heavy guitar power chord. I honestly don't have a clue why this band is featured here but at least I got to know them because of it. And that's a good thing as I appreciate a bit of well done pop once in a while. One needs at least a few albums you can play when your mother is around.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Excuse me?! Is this ProgArchives? I mean, where exactly is the progginess in this that causes progressive rock reviewers to rate this so highly? Nice pop-that-will-never-make-it-to-the-pop-charts, but, prog or progressive? Yes, there are a diversity of sounds and styles. There is a nice singer, nice atmospherics and ambiences, good, solid rhythm section, some very catchy melodies and chord progressions and lots of sound subtleties (very important to me), and the interludes are often quite nice, BUT, besides "Triangle," perhaps "Whoa Is Me," and the instant Post Rock classic, "The Canyon Behind Her," this is really an alternative/art rock, albeit a concept, album. Put this next to Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway," Marillion's "Brave," and Sylvan's "Posthumous Silence" and it does compare rather favorably in terms of emotional impact; it just doesn't hold a candle in terms of musicianship. Plus, the voice of Gavin Hayes, as good as it is, does get a bit monotonous.

***** 5 star songs: "The Canyon Behind Her" **** 4 star songs: "Same Ol' Road," "Sanzen," "Triangle," "Scissor Lock," "Of the Room," "It Only Took a Day," and "Whoa Is Me." *** 3 star songs: "Sorry But It's Over," "Convalescent," "Eighteen People Live in Harmony," and "Of the Room."

3.5 stars marked down for questionable progginess.

Review by Menswear
4 stars Music for the masses.

This record is making a lot of efferfescent reviews, sparkling with praise everywhere on this site. It seems that more and more bands are aiming for the Muse/ Coldplay recipe. Dredg is nonetheless an impressive quartet, especially when you see a drummer playing piano and drums at the same time! By the way, this album is a concept one, and it's probably the only thing 'progressive' despite the nice interludes throughout the album.

Obviously, this has (very) lightweight progressivte protein, and it's not to disappoint me at all. In fact, this is a refreshing blend of pop and rock with irresistible vocals and drums. Gavin Hayes has such a beautiful and emotive way of singing, I for one cannot resist but being moved by his emotive, if not sadness tainted vocals...oh wait! I got it! Two words: Martin Gore. Having been a (desperate) fan of Depeche Mode for 20 years, I can spot a good impersonnation when I hear one. You know what? We have so much Fish and Jon Anderson wannabees on the prog market, having more Depeche Mode tones in my world is refreshing!

What saves this band, apart from the vocals, is having a rock solid drummer. Good Lord, you can feel the sticks being chipped off the snare in your earphones. And judging by the size of his arms, I wouldn't like to be a high-hat in that band. Boy what a pounding hombre!

Like Coheed and Cambria, Muse or Coldplay, Dredg is a nice alternative when you have enough of the heavyness of life... just don't expect Gentle Giant complexity!

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Dredg really hit a high point with El Cielo, this album is just one of those that really strikes an emotional chord with me and I could never get bored of.

The theme of lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis really must have inspired the band because they really knew how to write about it and they thoughtfully express their emotions about the topic so excellently it should be criminal.

The album is extremely accessible even though it contains so many influences from symphonic prog to post rock to even jazz and this helps it stand out from the rest of the alt-prog releases. There is also a certain energy inherent in it that I don't believe any other band has achieved, it's almost supernatural.

Take a look a Dali's painting "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening" (whose acronym is found in the first track) and enjoy this spiritual ride Dredg has created.

A truly brilliant and original masterpiece of progressive music.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars The sophomore album from this band is much more polished than their debut one (not even talking about their earlier EP's of course).

My concern is that the music featured in here sounds as déjà vu. The influence from "Porcupine Tree" and the likes is too much obvious and it sounds as if the band was looking for some sort of inspiration away from their own creativity.

This being said, there are some extremely good songs featured, like the great "Same Ol' Road" which is a pure jewel of a melody. Another very well achieved one is "Whoa Is Me" which is mixing wild beat, passion, sweet vocals and some weird sax.

As their model, there are some heavy moments of course available. For those who like this, "Of The Room" is a delight. As during their first album, there are plenty of interludes which add basically nothing to the whole. Oh yes: this is a "concept" album?But I am not a fan of these short pieces of music.

Anyway, this is a good album; but I would have hoped some more personality. Three stars.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 7/10

"El Cielo" is 57 minutes of soaring melancholy and beauty, with songs so powerful and moving they will hypnotize you.

Dredg is a strongly praised art rock band from California. Their most famous and most recognized album is "El Cielo", loved by Alt Rock fans and Prog Rock fans, which makes it a really acclaimed piece of work all over the place, and it's not hard to understand why.

Even at first listen "El Cielo" isn't your average Alternative Rock album; the progressive side of it is well highlighted thanks to some interesting bridges within the songs, and thanks to the massive use of many guitar effects, even a lot of tremolo picking, which helps enormously in building a solid wall of sound, similar to a Post-Rock one. This said, you can start throwing in the influences, like Tool and Radiohead, but Dredg is a very original band, with a very unique sound, because of their songwriting, the instrumentation they use, and the experimentation they put in their music.

"El Cielo" is 57 minutes of soaring melancholy and beauty, with an interesting concept about sleep paralysis and reveries, with songs so powerful and moving they will hypnotize you. That's how great some of these tracks are. "Sanzen", "Sorry But It's Over", "The Canyon Behind Her" are magnificently executed songs, full of that mentioned melancholy and beauty, that truly strike you. "Convalesent", "Same Ol Road", "Whoa Is Me" are other really good songs, partly because of Gavin Hayes' beautiful voice and his excellent delivery. But I do have some gripes; almost all the Brushstrokes interludes, despite being fairly short, could have been a lot better. A filler should be short and should grab you, or relax you, but it has to have the same impact as a regular song. This doesn't happen here, unfortunately. The listening of the album however is not even close to being ruined, an album that is able to express sadness and dismal through cool drum loops, gentle weeping of a guitar, and a soft, enchanting voice.

I enjoyed the album quite a bit, a really good example of how Alternative Rock can be highly progressive and beautiful. Recommend it to pretty much all the fans of Prog and Alt Rock, as well as Post-Rock and Art Rock fans.

Review by SoundsofSeasons
5 stars Accessible Gorgeous Balanced Labor-of- Love Art Rock.

This album has touched me on an emotional, almost spiritual level, than almost any other.. besides maybe a few by the heart-gripping Anathema. There is something so perfect about the way this album is glued together.. by pieces that shine brightest due to the total sum of its parts. To put it simply this album has, and will always, stick with me.. it is one of those musical journeys i can, and have, taken dozens upon dozens of times and still to this day i not only may hear something new.. but still adore it. Many prog listeners can think of concept-albums.. (this is a concept album as far as i am concerned, make your own judgements).. that lose their luster after the journey has been taken too many times. I assure you that it hasn't lost any of its luster for myself, and a 'modern' prog lover may very well find that same unwavering loyalty in this album as well. I say modern because sometimes it seems we, the progressive rock fanatics, are sub-divided by those who enjoyed 60's and 70's prog.. then those who have taken to the 'revival' in the 90's and 2000's. I was born in 1990.. i am naturally drawn to music of my, and my peers era.. just as those before me were drawn to their own.

Does anybody feel like I do? .. Masterpiece.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Dredg hover in an interesting space between the sort of indie rock-based crossover prog pioneered by the likes of Radiohead and their imitators and post-rock; essentially, the songs on El Cielo tend to meander between those territories, with the vocals by Gavin Hayes being a constant presence in both the indie-prog tunes and the epic post-rock crescendos. It's an interesting approach which seems novel and creative but doesn't quite hit the golden spot for me; part of this is because I simply don't like the vocal style Gavin Hayes uses on the album, but also if you look beyond the vocals the band aren't actually doing anything particularly special musically speaking; crossing Radiohead with Mogwai is an interesting thought experiment, but the band are nowhere near as good as Radiohead in the Radiohead bits and not on a par with Mogwai on the Mogwai bits.
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars dredg over the course of their career so far have had two masterpieces, this album and "The Pariah, the Parrot, The Delusion". The other albums have been sort of all over the place, good albums but not quite up to par to these two albums.

This album is a concept album based on a painting by Dali called "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bumblebee around a Pomegranate One Second Before Awakening" which according to the band symbolizes sleep paralysis which reportedly Dali's wife was plagued with. There are several letters written by dredg fans about sleep paralysis and each song on this album (except for the "Brushstrokes" instrumentals) contains some words from these letters in the lyrics.

The music is guitar-based prog but with a good mixture of keyboards added in which provides a good texture to the music and helps with the variety that is inherent throughout the album. The main songs and the transition pieces in between work very well together and help the songs flow into each other nicely, which is how a well-planned concept album works best. The transition pieces add to the album instead of provide filler, so every part of this album is important. The songs are full of dynamic changes and a lot of styles are used which keep the music interesting. I love variety and there is a lot of it on this album, but the album is still concise and everything fits together well.

One problem with a lot of modern music (especially popular music) is that you can listen to an album and every song follows the same style or pattern so nothing usually stands out. This is a problem bands like U2 has ran into on their recent albums. They get rutted into a certain sound and pretty soon everything sounds the same...every new song is just another song. dredg gives a perfect example of how an album should sound, but they are not concentrating on generating a couple of hits and then adding filler to have enough material for an album. The reason why so many other bands suffer from this is because of digital downloading and the move away from album-oriented music. Hopefully, however, with the resurgence of vinyl, people will return to album- oriented music. With dredg on this album, however, most of the songs here can be listened to on their own just fine, but it works even better as a whole and with that they have accomplished something pretty amazing. That, along with some well written music that utilizes progressive elements very well, gives this music the perfect balance. Plus there is enough of a challenge to this music to make it interesting and intriguing.

So, I do consider this a masterpiece of modern prog music, even though it is not heavily immersed in prog, it deep enough to be quality art rock and is very enjoyable, beautiful at times and exciting in others. I love this album and can't see giving it anything less than 5 stars, even on a progressive rock scale.

Latest members reviews

3 stars A big improvement over their debut album, the band has more clue what they want to achieve and achieved certain maturity. Songwriting improved significantly. Music execution is pretty versatile, from bits of electronica, alternative rock or slight crossover prog. Sonically, we hear more than ju ... (read more)

Report this review (#2858768) | Posted by sgtpepper | Sunday, December 18, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The appeal of Dredg is simple: their music is progressive, strange, multi-instrumental, original, unique, and most of all, powerful. To give you an idea of the talent among these individuals, Dredg incorporates the use of many instruments into their primarily guitar-driven rock sound. All sounds ... (read more)

Report this review (#2169839) | Posted by thesimilitudeofprog | Saturday, March 30, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have a rocky relation with concept albums. On one hand i think that every album is a concept album by virtue of it being able to take you on a musical journey. But on the other, a well crafted concept can make you experience that journey differently. There is a huge difference between an album ... (read more)

Report this review (#956654) | Posted by Knapitatet | Thursday, May 9, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Okay, first let me say that I am not getting into the debate about whether or not Dredg is prog. But I do think they are an awesome band and I am glad I was introduced to them this past year on this web site. Now to this album. I consider this to be the best thing I have purchased this year, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#276642) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Why this band isn't more well known than they are remains a mystery to me. But if that means the band stays grounded in their beautiful soundscapes, then I suppose it's all for the better. El Cielo seemed a bit of a strange album to me, at first. I'd been introduced to them as a progressive ban ... (read more)

Report this review (#255680) | Posted by Sowilo | Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is much more polished than the debut. This one doesn't sound like Tool at all. The singing is completely different. Here, you are sometimes reminded of Coldplay or U2. There is still a lot more musically going on here that is different than those bands, but the voice is similar. Dre ... (read more)

Report this review (#171216) | Posted by digdug | Friday, May 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have listened to this album so many times and i never get tired of it. El Cielo is one of the greatest albums of the turn of the century not in just prog but in all of rock. These guys created some real unique material here. From start to finish this album is amazing. Every song is a treat, so m ... (read more)

Report this review (#151245) | Posted by JROCHA | Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's hard for me to find real prog masterpieces released by contemporary bands but El Cielo is one of these modern jewels that any prog fan has to add to their collectios. This conceptual album is a real musical journey from beautiful piano floating songs like Brushstroke: Walk in the Park to m ... (read more)

Report this review (#143602) | Posted by progadicto | Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars El Cielo by dredg was an absolute revelation, and at the most, I would listen to it three times a day for two weeks. Possibly it is the best album I have discovered so far this year. It is hypnotic and addictive, mostly because of the fantastic mood, which is just magical and melancholic. The m ... (read more)

Report this review (#129147) | Posted by Sofagrisen | Wednesday, July 18, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I can't believe how good this album is; I'm actually discovering Dredg backwards (I found "Catch Without Arms" first) and I'm really glad I finally bought their first two albums. El Cielo is one of the most intense musical experiences in a very long time, I'm so sad I didn't hear this in the p ... (read more)

Report this review (#102231) | Posted by Herzebeth | Saturday, December 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars And now finally...This album is a great achievement ,musically and conceptually.This is another face of dredg.More interesting and unique...Music is finally proggy enough with the more alternative side of them being hidden behind difficult structures and interesting patterns.....It's an album ... (read more)

Report this review (#89924) | Posted by Angeldust | Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars While many bands today and in the past have attempted to write albums rather than songs, few succeed on the level of dredg with El Cielo. Every song is unique, while at the same time contributing to the mood of the album, WITHOUT boring the listener to death. Dredg succed in providing wonder ... (read more)

Report this review (#87830) | Posted by xenuwantsyou | Monday, August 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hauntingly sad is an apt description for El Cielo. It's not that the album is depressing, just that it isn't exactly uplifting either. This is the kind of album that causes you to become retrospective without knowing you're doing just that. Pink Floyd's great works always had the same effec ... (read more)

Report this review (#63444) | Posted by dltonya | Friday, January 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've heard this album at least 10 times in the past two weeks, not as an excersise of listening, but as a thing of love, beacuse i couldn't bealive this record is so good. Forgetting and avoiding the progressive rock conventionalisms, this band creates 16 passages of great musicianship, from t ... (read more)

Report this review (#60165) | Posted by arqwave | Monday, December 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is an absolute underlooked masterpiece. It listened through it three times when I first bought it and now I'm hooked. These guys are not technical or anything, just...hazy/dreamy art rock. they have a serious knack for creating very memorable chorus and this album proves that. Every ... (read more)

Report this review (#59769) | Posted by | Friday, December 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Excellent album! The music is very atmospheric and I think the vocals are very nice. Reminds me of Morrissey's style sometimes. Nice drumming too. If you like Oceansize (another great band) you really have to check this out. They're similar in their musical approach. It's not about the quantit ... (read more)

Report this review (#53411) | Posted by | Tuesday, October 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "El Cielo" is a fantastic album!! I just adore the way Dredg mix various rock elements (at some points they're not far from Muse) with a classy thoughtful sound. I also like the vocals a lot, although many have told me that they can't stand them. I have to admit that the guy uses his voice in a s ... (read more)

Report this review (#53395) | Posted by | Tuesday, October 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'm just going to simple say that this album is a masterpiece and every song is just amazing, the why the alums put together and the fact that its about sleep paralyzis which is just so out of this world but it does exist... You can't say who this band sonds like because there sound is so uniq ... (read more)

Report this review (#45495) | Posted by | Sunday, September 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I decided to review this because Dredg had been on this site for a few weeks now, and so far there is just one review of the album. I'm guessing this is because many people have never heard of Dredg. Well, hopefully after reading this review and the one above, you'll go out to the stores and ... (read more)

Report this review (#42487) | Posted by | Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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