Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Black Dog's still here!

On this, the last day of the year, it is customary to look over the year and evaluate what great musical things have come our way in the last 12 months. However, since every website, blog, publication, and their granny is doing this I’m just gonna write about something that I’m totally crestfallen that I missed. The most recent album by British techno/IDM stalwarts The Black Dog came out at the end of March of this Year and I didn’t get the memo. The fact that it was released on a label from the city of my birth, Glasgow, Scotland, adds even more insult to injury, the insult that comes from not paying enough BLOODY ATTENTION to what’s going on in the world of proper techno, as I like to call it.

Radio Scarecrow came out on Soma Quality Recordings on March 31st as a CD and a very limited — 230 copies — triple vinyl pack. Would I like to possess the aforementioned three vinyl set? Yesh, I soytenly would, but alas and alack ‘tis undoubtedly sold out. There’s still the CD or digital files from the Soma store, and those may suffice. However, regardless of format this album absolutely rocks from start to finish, over the course of its seventeen tracks. On it, The Black Dog, Ken Downie, Martin Dust, and Richard Dust (of Dust Science Recordings) return to that lush, tricky sound that has been their trademark on IDM classics like “Virtual,” Spanners and Temple Of Transparent Balls.

 The group has never really gone away,  the line up has just changed — estranged members Handley and Turner went on to trade as Plaid — and their profile has lessened somewhat since the ‘90s when IDM was a hot genre. Intelligent electronic music, that you can dance to sometimes, is always a welcome thing in my book, but the lowbrow turn that dance music has taken in this low brow decade has kinda left it in the shadows. Radio Scarecrow shows that though it may not be in the limelight there is always a place for it. This album rolls, twitches, glitches, turns and hovers excellently from start to finish and the boys even fire in a couple of dance floor burners just in case you might think that they’re a trio of glum, Northern English chinstrokers. In fact, “UV Sine,” an abstract fusion of Detroit techno and New Jersey garage shows why djs like Tony Humphries used to drop “Virtual” back in the day.

Radio Scarecrow is a real keeper, extremely listenable and a solid exercise in melodic abstraction. Scoop on sight!


No comments: