"Instead of going out with a whimper, Dreambox Media went out with a bang...Miller Time performed the final Dreambox Media release at an April, 2015 concert at the Edelman Planetarium at Rowan University...Over a year and a half later, the Edelman Planetarium concert would re-state Millerís intentions for Dreambox Media: namely, that the entity would allow, to the greatest possible extent, all types of artistic endeavors, including visual as well as musical.
This last release combines those elements. Miller coordinated the six musical selections of the Rowan University concert with images - some enlightening, some ironic, some of social concern, some whimsical, some frightening - that illuminate the musical concepts his group suggests.
'In One Ear, Out the Other' tackles nothing less than the omnipresence of warring throughout the history of mankind. The pulse and infectiousness of the music belie the seriousness of the topic, for the instrumentation doesnít attack as much as invite with its modal buoyancy. As the band plays on, the world turns. While Miller revisits the brutality of the opening scene of simians from Stanley Kubrickís 2001: A Space Odyssey, he takes a different conclusion from the bone/weapon thrown in the air. Kubrick showed the development of human progress in the next scene; Miller shows that nothing has changed. With rapid-fire dates of wars over maps showing varying regions of the world, 'In One Ear, Out the Other' tracks the unending use of weapons, represented by the apeís killing and vandalizing bone, from 2500 BC to the present. Kubrick warned of the perils of technology. Miller warns of the perils of human nature, as he quotes Bertrand Russellís observation about brutality...
Miller and his quintet throw out a final statement of their thoughts without apology or softening of its presentation, much as Dreambox Media has done, unfiltered, throughout much of its existence. The next track, more of a groove than modal soundscaping, presents jazz as a civilizing forceóa belief that the musicians bring to life with E.J. Yellenís tenor sax work. Though the segment begins with images of Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Billie Holiday and others, it moves into 'duck and cover' films in preparation for nuclear attack in the 1950ís, an event which thankfully never happened. Nonetheless, at the time, the very thought of nuclear scared the entire population, and the DVDís message implies it was in need of artistic achievement to achieve some peace of mind.
Not only does Millerís swan song, Flicks Sticks & Tones, preserve a concert for posterity, but also it provides for posterity Millerís unvarnished beliefs, delivered without a word, during the year of Dreambox Mediaís exit. 'Nostalgia for the Future' addresses income inequality to Chris Simoniniís electronic keyboard improvisation, and it depicts scientific achievement with Dave Hotepís modal understatement on guitar. Quickly edited images contrast slum housing with new luxury apartment construction, abandoned factories with promises of robotized industrial automation, before they lead into the celebration of manís landing on the moon.
But the DVD isnít entirely message-driven. 'Like up in the Sky' considers the wonders of the cosmos, as did Kubrick, with scenes of stars and constellations and planets as the group tries to capture musically the ineffable vision of life beyond earth, perceptible but incomprehensible. 'The Felliniís Mutual' is dedicated to the memory of a guitarist important to the label, Jef Lee Johnson, who appears to have been an aficionado of classic movies, as is Miller. Accordingly, that track includes film clips of scenes of distress, some from silent films. Indeed, Flicks Sticks & Tones is packed full of classic movie scenes from the likes of Godard, Eisenstein, Scorsese, Truffaut and Spielberg. The final scene of 'The Felliniís Mutual' parodies one of Hitchcockís most famous.
Despite the darkness and despair of much of the theme that precedes it, the eleven-minute final track, 'How about This?' wishes for peace. Musically expressed of course, that wish appears as the word 'Peace' translated into native languages over successive flags of numerous countries. While that wish apparently has been unrealized for four thousand years, according to the DVDís chronology, it appears to be a wish worth retaining, as reminded by Flicks Sticks & Tones. How else can human nature be kept in check?
That forthrightness and feistiness, missing from the recordings of entertainment conglomerates, explains why Dreambox Media will be missed. It already is."
- Bill Donaldson, ejazznews.com