Dr Robert Blackman ‘The Unimaginable DreamWorks’ LP (RE:WARM) 4/5

As a record label, artist agency and online record store, the “Warm” brand continues to take great strides in solidifying themselves as fine musical purveyors. And who could dispute it? Their agency artist roster is a dream line-up of boundlessly talented DJs and musicians while their record label – which may perhaps still be in their comparatively early days – features some fantastic global reissues plucked from around the world.

Kickstarted by the New Zealand disco double-header of Dalvanius & The Fascinations (‘Voodoo Lady’) alongside Golden Harvest (‘I Need Your Love’), released as part of the label’s RE:WARM series in 2020, a steady flow of releases would soon follow – the three-track EP from the San Francisco-based duo of Mouse & Kelix Williams under their Daisy Glow moniker saw the dance floor friendly vibes continue via the realms of house music originally from 1992. Further projects from South Africa’s The Hurricanes and US vocalist Margaret Wakeley continue what the Warm Records are establishing as a rich lineage of thrilling reissues.

With the distinction of being Warm’s sixth project, Dr Robert Blackman’s ‘The Unimaginable DreamWorks’ unveils an incredibly ambitious project from the musician and writer. A five-track compilation that assembles songs from former Blackman releases between 1983-1985 sees the San Francisco-native – despite presenting songs across a wide variety of styles – deliver a quintessentially 1980s record. The unashamed pop sensibilities of ‘Dream Dancer’ sounds like it would have found its place secured on mainstream radio at that time while the disco-funk of ‘San Francisco Dance’ calls back to some of the early aesthetics as set out by a certain Minnesota-based Purple Majesty. ‘Peace Is Alive’ serves as another of the compilation’s highlights – clocking in at just under seven minutes and featuring a notable Baz Luhrmann-style spoken word monologue, the song really finds itself at home as a track perhaps inspired by the spiritual jazz works of Sun Ra. The chant-style vocals and the musical arrangements provide completely new versatile dimensions to Blackman’s other tracks included on ‘The Unimaginable DreamWorks’.

As a self-taught musician and a chiropractor as a part of his 9 to 5 – both his chiropractic business and his do-it-yourself record label were called Riverwinds – Blackman was able to convey many of his holistic philosophies through his music. His partnership with the multi-talented percussionist Michael Pluznick saw him become a key factor for much of Blackman’s music, demonstrative by Pluznick contributing his talents as a percussionist, arranger and producer to four of the five tracks featured on this release.

While Warm releases will no doubt continue to unveil lost and forgotten gems from various parts of the world, Robert Blackman’s ‘The Unimaginable DreamWorks’ is indicative of a hugely ambitious and forward-thinking musician and a credit to the label’s RE:WARM series.

Imran Mirza