Adrift in the shadows, wandering through the misty dark with a surgically-precise slashing, we discover the nature-esque sounds of “Dream Symposium,” the drum-clad tour de force from the Toronto Tabla Ensemble out now everywhere that quality independent music is sold and streamed. The percussion delivers crushing blow after blow, guiding us into the night with a luxurious textural expression that cannot be replicated on stage or in-studio ever again. Every song that the Toronto Tabla Ensemble compose is unique window into their soulful style of multidimensional music, but in the case of “Dream Symposium,” this very well could be the most eclectic, if not the most abstract, look they’ve been able to hammer out since the release of their debut album way back in 1998.
There’s no fluff to behold in this song, nor is there any of the standard filler that new age musicians too frequently attach to postmodern compositions like this one. It’s fairly obvious that the Toronto Tabla Ensemble weren’t overthinking the structure of the song, and more pressingly, that they weren’t trying to create something any more or less shaking than their previous material has been.
There’s an earthiness to “Dream Symposium” that implies a jam session origin story, but at the same time the percussive pattern is so fine-tuned that it’s hard to picture this being an improvisational number. It’s mind-bending but not necessarily monolithic by design, and despite its aesthetical contradictions (plentiful as they may be), it feels very natural and relatable. Even without lyrics of any sort, this is as robust a work of art as an excerpt of divine poetry, which isn’t all that easy to do in an instrumental single.
“Dream Symposium” is everything that its name would suggest it could be and more, and though I’ve had the opportunity to review some really captivating content this year, this particular single immediately stood out to me as an exercise in urbanity that I wouldn’t soon forget. The Toronto Tabla Ensemble make music for people of a more refined taste in sonic exhibitionism, and when factoring in the cultural significance of their artistic statements, they deserve to be lauded for the momentous impact they’re making on Canada and the world in general.