Artist: Dot Allison                                   Release Date: July 2002
Label: Mantra Recordings                                       Running time: 47m 40s

Dot Allison - Vocals, keyboard, guitar and glockenspeil
Andrew Weatherall - Sounds and mixing
Death in Vegas - Sounds and mixing
Keith Tenniswood - Programming, production, more mixing
Arranged, engineered & produced by Dot Allison and Dave Friedmann

Musical Context :

      A decade later after a record with One Dove and a solo follow-up, this disc, one suspects, is what Dot Allison would have released all along had she been a little more in control, back then. It sounds like a collection of songs made by someone who was asleep through all the 1990s, like a synth-geek who just walked out of a house music club circa 1988, went to the studio, and found all this weird new gear there. That premise will likely either sound intriguing to you, or absolutely horrific.

      That said, the intervening years have been tough on this scene and genre - and you can hear some of the wear here. This is not the dreamy, exalted, and frankly drug-induced euphoria one heard on Morning Dove White - a decade of clubbing will take their toll, but it makes for a more reflective, moodier listen. Certainly having Weatherall on board brings more than a decade of electronic noodling into the mix, and you get a heck of a lot ambient sound cues here, all the way from the KLF through to Boards of Canada. In addition, Dave Friedmann from Mercury Rev comes along for the ride on post-production, adding plenty of more traditional indie elements, and keeping the atmospherics grounded. Oh yeah, and the guy from Death In Vegas does some lever-pulling as well.

What’s it sound like though?

      This is first and foremost, it should be said up front, very much a pop music album. Reviewers might be throwing around all kinds of referents, from Pac Man to Portishead, but do not be fooled. These are some great, unapologetic throw away grooves, as far as that goes. The title track leads off with a drum sequence that could as easily be from a 1984 Front 242 dance mix - take that industrial referent for what you will. If you don`t have any Clan of Xymox records, this sound maybe a new thing for you, or you may`ve heard the same beats when they turned up on St. Etienne`s Tiger Bay in the mid-90s or Daft Punk`s first release a few years after that or on the recent Chemical Brothers album. The other clear parallel here would be to the electronics of early Orbital (esp. the "Brown album") and the pitched lyrics of later Curve (esp. Cuckoo).

      All of which meaning, it is a very synth, as in synthetic sound they have captured and reconstructed here - and if that sort of thing (the chemicals or aphex twin, say) mingled with an elusive but influential female lead (like, for example, Mary Timony or Chan Marshall) - well, if that doesn`t sound like an ideal listen for you, then you`ll want to give this one a pass. If, on the other hand, you were a fan of Accelerator-era FSOL * and would like to hear it mixed up with vocals like Elastica, then okay then. Take a listen (in RealAudio anyway) at the Mantra site: .

Say, for the sake of argument, I love the record? What else might I try?

      Well, first thing you do out & get yourself a copy of Screamadelica and Chill Out ...

      Ha - sorry, just kidding.1 If you liked the brand new you're retro feel here, I suspect St. Etienne's Tiger Bay would be pretty pleasing to your ear. David Holmes' This Film's Crap, Let's Slash the Seats or Let's Get Killed also weighs in at this level of keyboard and sampling complexity. I`d skip Allison`s 1999 solo debut - Afterglow was a bit of a letdown I think for most listeners, despite the intervention of an almost embarrassingly long list of musicians, guest vocalists and knob-twiddlers. Also, Beth Orton`s first record for Astralwerks comes out next month, entitled Daybreaker and from the singles, if this stuff works for you, then ya.

The Songs:
1. We're Only Science - 5:26       ~A moody industrial, like a motorway-retro opener, with Allison`s hypnotic warble counterpointed what sounds like explosions effects from Galaga ~
2. Substance - 3:48       ~ An inexplicably, abysmally weak track that sounds remarkably like a high school New Order cover band - thankfully the record turns around ~
3. You Can Be Replaced - 4:51       ~Lyrically, this is so Replicants-era Numan its great, except it sounds like its being sung by really early Bangles. One more, that either sounds like a horror show to you, or pretty cool ~
4. Performance - 6:35       ~ Lush, orchestral and glaringly pretty - starting out with distorted, distant chimes, moving into a jungle of analogue atmospherics, complete with full strings accompaniment and ending with a full 30 sec. gust of ether ~
5. Wishing Stone - 4:11       ~ Nicely eerie folk acoustic sound overlaid with tinkertoy keyboards ~
6. Make It Happen - 5:14       ~ A great pastiche electro track - Peter Hook bass line, Kraftwerk keyboards and little Defender arcade sounds just for spice- ~
7. Strung Out - 4:41       ~ Again, kicks off with a very late 70s Heart of Glass feel, minimal electronics and stripped down bass, with a clattering foreground drum track ~
8. I Think I Love You - 4:20       ~This track actually begins with the drum sequence homage (could be Don't You Want Me, could be Europe Endless) but then breaks off into an elaborate set of glitchy pops and continuously building layers of synth, until three minutes all pretense is abandoned to anything but lurchy, robotic techno-pop ~
9. Hex - 5:05       ~ Returning to the early Primal Scream sensibility (in fact I`m pretty sure I hear samples from Loaded2 here), this track has a defiant come down feel ~
10. Lover - 5:20       ~ A fairly straightforward swirly, dream pop ballad that wouldn`t be out of place, with its Hammond sounds and reverb, on the last Spiritualized (though a harsher Curve riff is actually sampled near the end of the track) ~

1 Seriously though, you do already have those, right?
2 The worst you could accuse them of here is recycling, considering it was Weatherall that produced and mixed that track, albeit over a decade ago. Weatherall was also largely responsible for much of the sound of One Dove, Future Sound*, the Chemicals, St. Etienne - he's done records with the lot.
* Incidentally, I am having this terrible sticken sensation that I actually recommended, on the basis of their previous work, the new FSOL record, to some noder, before actually hearing the thing ... which would be bad, seeing as it's absolutely friggin' gash. We were actually thinking about mailing it back to them, and enclosing a note, "from ex-fans" ... no kidding, it's just that bad. Like, well, PANTS bad. I am truly hopeful, nay praying, nobody actually bought it on my tip. That would be exceedingly embarassing.

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