Published Mar 03, 2015A counter-factual question: If the new project from Jenn Grant, Charles Austin (Superfriendz) and producer Graeme Campbell wasn't called "Aqua Alta," would its music still sound like water and waves? Probably. The songs on Dreamsphere, the trio's debut album, earn their aquatic-minded titles like "Coral Castle" and "BTOcean" by evoking the repetitive give-and-take of a current, with melodies ebbing and flowing across their synthesizer-heavy canvases, soaked in reverb.
Grant's voice has always had an ethereal quality to it. While she has sometimes contrasted it with harder-hitting tones on her own records, it feels particularly at home paired with softer sounds, which makes Austin and Campbell's compositions an ideal fit. A smooth listen, Dreamsphere only occasionally demands rapt attention — like on the driving "Polar" — but it always offers comfort, like it's tapping into something intimate and well known. Not unlike the "do re mi" refrain from a sampled children's choir that recurs through the record, Dreamsphere's brand of electronic pop echoes the familiar, but does so in a way that's still catchy and immediate. (Star House)