Chill-inducing percussion. Haunting harmonies comprised of little more than tone and timpani. An elegant glow forged in the fires of a beat that just won’t back down. This is “Dream Symposium,” the aptly-titled new single from the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, who turn in one of the lushest instrumental recordings of the young fall season in this latest studio cut. “Dream Symposium” is a groove-laden symphony of percussive textures that draws us in with its spellbinding slow-burn only to unleash a deluge of rich elemental beats that convey more emotion than lyrics ever could. You don’t have to be familiar with the Toronto Tabla Ensemble to get into this jam, but I believe that those who’ve heard their work prior to now will be particularly taken with their most recent composition.
There is a lot of emotion beneath the grooves in this song, and we don’t have to look very hard to find it. There’s a yearning to the strut of the drums, a sense of longing that never quite evaporates from the air around us in the nearly four minutes that the track lasts. The feeling of a tension that’s growing stronger and stronger with every passing moment is inescapable, and yet there’s this frustrated gallop in the percussion that suggests how blissful it would be for all of the tightly-wound pieces in this arrangement to suddenly come undone. It’s angsty, surprisingly accessible and understatedly intellectual, but more than anything else, it makes for one of the most engaging listening experiences I’ve come across in a long while.
It’s not going to be everyone’s style, but for my money (and that of most discriminating ears who keep up with Canada’s more erudite music scenes), the Toronto Tabla Ensemble’s “Dream Symposium” is a tough track to top this September. Fans both young and old would be wise to give it a spin if they’ve been feeling dissatisfied with the moderate rock and hip-hop rhythms of the FM dial this past year, as I’ve found that its sterling beat acts as a perfect cleansing agent for the aural palate. It’s another hit in a long string of successful singles for the collective, and likely not the last we’ll hear from their terrifically talented sessions together.