While we expectantly wait for the next NCT U release, SM Entertainment has decided to placate us with a new SM Station project from Ten, “Dream In A Dream.” The resulting single, an all English endeavor by the young Thai performer, is a satisfying release. What I enjoyed about this song was its focus on creating a mood instead of explicit lyricism, with the English sparse and only occurring at the bridge. The whole thing is ethereal from start to finish, combining high strings (is it a shamisen or its Chinese equivalent I can’t tell?), which seem to rain down chords from heaven, and a pulsing and spacious drum, more like a heartbeat than a kick. Ten’s voice never seems to supersede the music itself and even sounds like it modulates in time with the beat, weaving in and out with the song, dependent on its overall vibe.

The music video for “Dream in a Dream” is also impressive and and instead of seeming superfluous, only added further to the ambience of the project, perhaps even a necessary addition in order for the single to be fully realized. I would not have enjoyed the song as much as I did without the visual to go along with it. The overall mix of visual (music video and choreography) and auditory seems purposeful and almost avant garde, as if all parts were considered simultaneously in order to create an overall atmosphere of dreaminess. The release thus has a thoughtful confidence in its artistry and lyrical nature, not muddied with ideas of poppy grandeur. The shifting coloring and shots of the music video, like Ten’s voice, the beat, and the choreo, pulse with an overarching heartbeat, creating a complete visual and auditory experience.

I am really into SM Entertainment’s SM Station project. They release new music once a week using different artists, both those in and outside their own company and from different genres, to develop interesting musical ideas that may otherwise never be pursued. Like the PBS of the KPop industry. Sometimes it doesn’t work out so well, but most times really interesting singles result, like “Dream in a Dream.” Some of my favorite SM releases come from these weekly projects and I’m always excited to listen (and watch) whatever comes out next.

Side note 1: I’m really really really anticipating an NCT U comeback (NCT U is still my favorite of all the NCT subgroups, despite releasing the least amount of music) and finally seeing Ten again after more than a year with such a great performance only makes me more excited.

Side note 2: If you want to see the choreography in more depth (and have more reason to respect Ten’s skill as a performer), SM released a dance practice video. In this version, it’s easier to understand how successfully the choreography uses space and adds to the overall vision of the project. The shots in the music video hide some of the complexity of the choreography so this practice video is a welcome addition.