Personnel: Robert Miles; Maria Nayler, Fiorella Quinn (vocals).
Wispy strings, piano melodies and insistent beats mesh together to form DREAMLAND, a techno record with classical overtones, pop sensibilities and humanitarian appeal. The album follows up, and includes, the international hit "Children," an infectious trance-groove instrumental that instantly planted itself in the heads of techno and pop fans alike. "Children" was originally recorded in an effort to save lives. In Italy, where the Swiss-born Miles lives, club kids were routinely wrecking their cars and their lives by taking the frenetic club atmosphere to the highways. With "Children," Miles aimed to slow down the pace and calm clubbers as the evening wound down.
Miles weaves beautiful textures with synthesizers, creating layers of sound (piano, strings, ethereal atmospherics, the occasional diva vocal) around a throbbing beat. DREAMLAND is a womb of sonic imagery that transports the listener as it soothes, resulting in an aural experience unlike any other.
Italian pianist turned DJ Robert Miles scored a massive international hit with his wonderful, dreamy dance cut "Children" (one of the 1990s biggest and best dance hits) from his debut album Dreamland. The album at times sounds as if it were one continuous song (or set of beats with similar chord progressions) stretched over an hour, which may detract some, but, in essence, is what makes his sonic dreamscape so engaging. It's at once both dancefloor and chill out material; one of those discs where one can hit the play button, drift into a different dimension, and forget about worldly worries. Dreamland, which is both melancholy and blissful, succeeds in its simplicity. Highlights include the second single, "Fable," which continues with the same formula he utilized in "Children," this time using ethereal female chant-like vocals (also included is an instrumental version of "Fable"). By track three, however, the formula begins to get repetitive, and by track four one can start thinking that this album is really only one long, continuous song. Track five, "In My Dreams," serves to turn things around, utilizing different break beats and a key change towards the song's finish. That is followed by the album's true highlight, "One and One," a gorgeous, touching, dreamy song, featuring tender vocals by Maria Naylar, which also became a massive international hit, and remains one of the most sincere dance songs of its era. "Princess of Light" follows "One By One" and returns to the previous formula, but still manages to remain intoxicating. "In the Dawn" sets itself apart by featuring more straight-up, trance-like beats, and the album ends with the original version of "Children" and the album's closer, "Red Zone." Yes, the songs are very similar, but this album possesses a undeniably dreamlike, intoxicating quality, which can be appreciated by young and old, and, if nothing else, is worth it for the magical tracks "Children" and "One and One." ~ Jose F. Promis
Q (8/96, p.123) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...Impossibly relaxing, full of melody and designed to be swallowed whole, DREAMLAND is quite brillant."