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In the streetlight-streaked hours beyond midnight, lost in a dream. The newest record from Dorio, Strawberry Dream, hangs in the liminal space between upbeat orchestral pop and anonymous late-night lounge. Dorio is the retro-futurist songwriting project of Austin, Texas musician Chad Doriocourt, who produced and played most of the instruments on his second LP.

Strawberry Dream marks Dorio’s debut with Earth Libraries, co-released with NYC-based Citrus City Records. All beginning on an 8-track tape machine, the escapist soundscape came together with lyric and vocal contributions from collaborator Rachel Rascoe.

During completion of the ten-song album, Dorio spent daylight hours working in the library of the local classical radio station. By night, live DJs’ dance beats worked their way into the musician’s subconscious while working at an Austin nightclub. The integration can be heard in prominent string and flute arrangements, alongside house-influenced drum beats and melodic basslines, throughout the record. The title track in particular, with shared vocals by Dorio and Rachel, introduces the record’s subtly surreal version of reality.

“That’s the contradiction between the noises in the background of the songs and the songs themselves, of two different worlds happening,” explains Dorio. “I tried to create my hyperaware world in the recordings, because I’m always hearing all these sounds, whether they’re good or bad. I like crystal-clear production, with not a lot of buzz or distortion.”

Use of field recordings, like the side conversations and clinking glassware of “At The Restaurant,” was inspired by the environmental music of Japanese composer Hiroshi Yoshimura. Many of Dorio’s influences also aligned under Tokyo’s Shibuya-Kei movement, which merged wall-of-sound orchestral pop, Italian soundtracks, lounge pop, and deep house sensibilities in the mid-90s. Under this energy, “Lost These Days” highlights Rachel’s twee vocal lead with blown-out fuzz guitar and tambourine.

Bongos usher in the mellow, after-hours energy of “Right Now Feels Good.” Dorio’s subtly-detached vocals warp with vocoder ahead of a smoky saxophone solo from David Alvarez, with interwoven flute. Integrating Italo-disco influence, “Light Me Up High” is a slightly condescending, bass-heavy party track featuring synthesizer by pianist Wiley Greene. Inspired by a bummer interaction with a neighbor during a backyard gathering, the song begins: “Look out, it’s my party / and I know that you’re not invited.”

Following the live band’s debut in 2019, Dorio released debut album Yesterday The Sky Was Blue with Citrus City Records in 2020. Dorio’s Robot Friends followed in 2021. The four-song collection included three instrumental scores/remixes around the central song “Robot Friends,” which acts as a throughline with inclusion on the Strawberry Dream tracklist. Alongside Dorio’s globally-minded radio show “Lost In Paradise” on Austin station KOOP, he also records and produces other artists’ music in his semi-analogue home studio.