Bittles‘ Magazine | Interview
The Black Dog are one of those rare bands that appear to be doing what they do for a reason, a need, or a compulsion even. While more and more people in the music industry seem to be all about the fame, or the money, it is truly refreshing to meet a band who aren‘t here to play the media game. Their regular forays into the world of music are constantly met with eager anticipation by those intelligent people who treasure techno that is created with depth and lots of soul. By JOHN BITTLES
The trio of Ken Downie, Richard Dust and Martin Dust have been creating a wide variety of luscious music together since 2001. Previous members include Ed Handley and Andy Turner who left in 1995 to continue their groundbreaking work as Plaid. Yet, if anything the enrolment of Richard and Martin reinvigorated the creative output of The Black Dog and has led to the production of warm techno masterpieces such as Silenced and the truly excellent Radio Scarecrow.
New album Tranklements is due to hit the shops on the 20th May and is a stunning piece of electronica that also contains just the right amount of dancefloor oomph to get even the most weary of feet to shuffle in rhythmic orgasms. Tracks such as Atavistic Resurgence and Pray Crash I sparkle and shine with that desolate Detroit spirit which they combine wonderfully with a steely Sheffield sense of warmth. The use of bridging tracks or »Bolts« on Tranklements make the entire album flow beautifully to create a wondrous sound that envelopes the listener in waves of shivery IDM noise.
To be released on their own label Dust Science, to my mind at least (the band disagree), the album sees the band move towards the soft techno overtones of the first album by this current line-up Silenced. After the brooding dehumanised soundscapes of Music for Real Airports and the brutal, alien-sounding dancefloor devastation of Liber Dogma this is a somewhat fuller, richer experience that appeals as much to the clubber as to those listening at home. For me the record represents the meeting point between these previous two releases with a unique sound that offers an all consuming headphone listening experience that recalls empty streets and crumbling factories.
With the album already sounding like a cert for inclusion on »album of the year« lists everywhere, I was genuinely thrilled to be offered the chance to ask the guys some questions. In a short interview we discussed their folk beginnings, politics, and how the new album doesn’t sound like Silenced at all.
For those who have been hiding in a bunker for the last 20 years expecting an imminent apocalypse, can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?[The Black Dog] We’re a folk band from Sheffield.
What can you tell us about the new album Tranklements that is coming out on the 20th May?
It’s a selection of our favourite tracks we’ve been working on for the last 12 months, buy it, you’ll like it.
To me it sounds similar to Silenced in its sense of warmth and varied tempos. How do you think it compares to your previous work?
Really? We don’t think it sounds anything like Silenced in any way. We don’t compare our work, it’s not a race or competition, we just do what we do.
Have you any plans to tour the album? And are you planning any gigs in Germany?
We have about 20 dates planned in so far, we’ll be in Germany in August.
What made you decide to release the new album on your own label Dust Science after releasing the previous four on Soma?
We fancied doing everything ourselves for a change and we sell just as many copies as Soma so it makes little difference.
I loved the Dadavistic Orchestra album you released together with Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia. Any plans for a follow-up?
We have a 5:1 recording we are working on but not sure if it will ever be released.
Further Vexations could be seen as a political record and an attack on the modern state as well as passivity in the populace. Excellent new EP The Return Ov Bleep also seems quite politically charged. Is there a place for politics in music?
There always has been, how can there not be if you live in the world and are trying to make your way in the world.
The blurb for The Return Ov Bleep features the line: while others may be dreaming of time travel and jet packs we accept that the future is much darker and more brutal. Yet I can definitely detect a hint of hope in the music on the EP. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?
We are always hopeful as we know the art always wins out.
Will people be surprised with how dancefloor friendly the tracks on this EP are?
Not really, we’ve been writing music for the floor since 1989 and more so for the last 12 years.
Where do you find inspiration to create?
Other people and books.
What else can we expect from Dust Science in 2013?
More releases from us and perhaps a few new artists, we’ll have to wait and see.
With it now being 20 years since the official release of Bytes is there anything special lined up to celebrate its anniversary?
There is a rather fantastic remix by Regis of Broken Mind on new single Darkhaus vol. 2 due out early May. Are there any other producers out there who you rate?
We rate a lot of producers and DJs, Beneath, Geoim and Maya Jane are doing it for us right now.
Analogue or Digital?
Do you have any advice for any budding producers out there?
Be good at being wrong quicker and do what you love rather than what you think any »market« wants.
| JOHN BITTLES