The Underground Youth & Laura Carbone “In Dreams”

posted at 10/20/2021

In Berlin-based recording artist Laura Carbone’s body of recorded work, she has never shied away from excavating and shining a light on the conflicting peaks and valleys of romantic love, even to the point of personal discomfort. This rare trait embodies an emotional authenticity shared yesterday and today by only a select few artists with the boldness to dig deep and the special gift of speaking both to and for us in expressing what they’ve found. Chief among them is arguably the inimitable Roy Orbison.

Craig Dyer from The Underground Youth is another such soul-miner, exploring and exposing the depths of the human “id” since forming his groundbreaking band in Manchester in 2008. TUY has released 10 albums since then, and toured the globe from New York to Shanghai establishing a bulletproof reputation as one of the premier psyche/noise purveyors of our time. When the band resettled in Berlin in 2016, their shared musical affinities and penchant for the same late-night haunts made it inevitable that Craig and Laura would meet. When they did, they discovered a shared love of darker-tinged romantic pop songs from across the ages, the foundation that would eventually lead to the collaboration behind this EP.

As 2020 developed into the year of the pandemic, both artists found themselves isolated and cut off from their accustomed work processes, but no less driven to create. Craig’s emotional connection to Orbison traces back to his grandmother and an earlier time when the two of them would celebrate the big man’s music together. Now, looking to honor both her and Roy’s influence, Craig initially toyed with the idea of recording a few Orbison covers on his own at home during the autumn. This seed then blossomed into a full-fledged labor of love project when he decided to pitch Laura the idea of doing an EP of four specific Orbison songs as duets. Equally hungry for a creative outlet under lockdown and eager to collaborate with Craig in tribute to beloved ancestors and an artist who continues to inspire them both, Laura grabbed the opportunity with both hands. They each recorded their parts at home, sharing audio files back and forth until each song was complete. Laura and Craig then sent the raw tracks off to LA to their friend and colleague Scott Von Ryper from The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Black Ryder for the final mix, and then to Philipp Welsing in Hamburg for mastering.

The result is the sparsely lush beauty, heartache, melancholy and joy that is the 10-inch, 4-song EP “In Dreams – The Underground Youth & Laura Carbone”. The iconic cover photography by Laura’s bandmate and acclaimed photographer Andre Leo was given the final polish in the EP’s cover design by her friend and long-time graphics collaborator Olya Dyer, Craig’s wife and The Underground Youth’s equally iconic stand-up drummer.

The record shines with its bittersweet blend of a reserved musical background that leaves space for Craig’s earthy voice and Laura’s soaring, ethereal vocals to connect, embrace and unravel again. The four Orbison songs here were chosen to chart the age-old narrative of falling in and out of love and the deep longing for romance and connection we all feel. Easing in at the start, the more playful title track “In Dreams” captures that first quivering hint of impending romance, with all its promise and risk. The classic “Love Hurts” follows, reminding us that for all its joys and wonders, love is never, ever a smooth ride. This theme develops further when Side Two opens with “Crying” and the realization that it’s all slipping away, and the record and story then closes, after the fact and coming full circle, with the solitary self-medication that is “Lonely Wine”.

The “In Dreams” EP is itself a dream-come-true for these two pioneering artists. This well of cool water dug in an enforced creative drought is a worthy and heartfelt homage to loved ones past and present, and to another towering pioneer whose musical legacy still looms large today, as relevant and armor-piercing as ever.


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