Cabin fever? Me too. Life seems rather small? Sounds familiar. Dave Huntriss, the Bristol-based multi-instrumentalist associated with acts such as The Malago Ballroom, Nicholson Heal and Kate Stapley, has been holed up in his Mum’s attic. Dreams About Rooms is the resulting single.
Bona fide adults loitering in their parents’ loft spaces and not going out much might have derived a few raised eyebrows in less plague-ridden times of yore, but now that we’ve all been in our minuscule boxes for a year, there’s a new normality to that image.
So, whilst unemployed, waiting for live music to reawaken from the kind of extended slumber we tend to associate with miswired, growing teenagers and hiding in his bedroom from COVID, it’s probably unsurprising that Dave has indulged in a spot of bedroom pop. The track Dreams About Rooms came out on 10th March via Afraid of the Radio Recordings. Derived from a recurring dream he had during 2020, it follows the process of exploring the familiarity of his own home, but discovering new rooms, getting lost and becoming terrified.
The vocals on Dreams About Rooms have the delicate, evanescent quality of some early 90s shoegaze (think Chapterhouse), without the woozy, too-much-boozy swirl of guitars. Melodically it’s more upbeat and sturdy; you might get some happily retrospective indie feels from three decades hence, but also pick up contemporary qualities of Frightened Rabbit and The National. One riff took me from The Primitives to Wasuremono’s Alligator in the course of only a few bars. Lyrically, it has all the uncertainty and vulnerability of a world that’s trying to resume talking, but can’t seem to unmute itself yet: “These dreams are the only thing that feel real.”
The kids in the Narnia Chronicles, Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter, would have had carte blanche to take the piss if they were stuck in lockdown over recent months: muted microphones, cameras off, quick messages typed to claim ‘wifi issues’ – homeschool lessons duly parked. ‘Stay Local’ decrees could be swerved. While the rest of us were locked down, they could be straight through the back of the wardrobe, larging it/super spreading in Narnia and back later without anyone noticing.
No easy escape of a magic wardrobe for Mr Huntriss; he’s worked wonders with the contents of a solitary attic and one subconscious. Dreams About Rooms sounds like he’s had an excess of Zooms and maybe even a couple of shrooms, but nevertheless, the track manages to feel full-bodied and uplifting.