I only just found out about Espoo-based duo act NOTIO’s recent release of their first full-length album, fascinatingly titled “Lucid Dreams For Sale” on 31 May 2019. Founded in 2015, the Finnish duo describe their musical style as a mix of Melodic Metal/Rock with Prog elements, comparable to bands like SYSTEM OF A DOWN and ANATHEMA. So, what dreams are they selling exactly?
First off, I would rather call their style Rock with Metal influences, rather than purely Metal. If you are expecting something else, this is not the album for you, but if you go into this record like I did – with an open mind – there are without a doubt some intruiging musical aspects to discover. To me personally, the vocals are the strongest feature on “Lucid Dreams For Sale”. Reminiscent of SYSTEM OF A DOWN‘s Serj Tankian, Albert Olli brings stories to life with emotion. His compositional skills are deeply obvious on multifaceted tracks like “The Chosen Road”. Albert Olli and Pasi Löfgrén are both multi-instrumentalists, and created all the original tracks without the help of guest artists. Impressive, yes, but having to focus on so many different details at once has its disadvantages. This shows by the musical variety sometimes tipping over into chaos, making it hard for the listener to stay in the moment. That aside, the duo does bring something refreshing and new to the table.
In my humble opinion, the most interesting part of this release, however, is that the two have created a whole fictional universe behind the tracks on this album (a lot like EVERFROST’s “Winterider”, read our extensive review here). The story takes place in a futuristic society with its own strict dictatorship that supervises and controls its citizens with a chip that monitors every action in their daily lives. In this community where the concept of privacy does not longer exist, citizens either work monotonous jobs or get paid supervising each other’s lives in a some sort of popularity contest called “the success run”. The story’s protagonist is called Nardo, a robot fixer, and the events that happen in his life unfold throughout the album. After he gets fired from his job at the robot facility, he decides to take revenge on the society’s leader by inventing a “Lucid Dream Machine” (hence the record’s title). This is a virtual reality simulation that the user can modify the way they want it to be, to create their own dream life and live there, in a reality where freedom, privacy and dignity is once again available. You can read the whole story behind “Lucid Dreams For Sale” here.
I absolutely LOVE the idea behind the story, and if this was a book, I would read it in a heartbeat. The problem here is, that if you come up with a great concept like this, you need to really deliver to make the product match the expectations. So, did NOTIO deliver with this project’s musical debut? In some ways, yes. The whole still feels a bit unpolished, though, and this may distract the listener from the atmosphere the duo is trying to create for this album. If they keep it up, maybe experiment and enhance those proggy elements even more (just think about all they could do synth-wise!), this concept could grow from something good to something GREAT.
5.The Chosen Road
7.Ideological Brain Removal
Albert Olli – Songwriting, Vocals, Drums, Guitars, Bass, Lyrics
Pasi Löfgrén – Artistic producer, Additional guitars, Piano/synth
Independent (release date 31.05.2019)