Release Date: Apr 13, 2010
Record label: Anticon
Genre(s): Electronic, Alternative, Experimental
However you care to define it, anticon. seems to have an ethos that connects its roster together, some thread or blood bond that unites it all. And although most bands on the label can be connected in a couple of steps through their collaborations, they still end up sounding unique musically. Plot it out on a scatter diagram and you'd be able to draw a clear line of best fit, from Why? to cLOUDDEAD to Subtle to Odd Nosdam and so on.
There are at least three things we’ve been able to count on in the reliable career of Minneapolis-based multi-instrumentalist and Anticon mainstay Martin Dosh. The first is percussion; perhaps because it seems to be his first love and he teaches kids how to hit the skins by day, he treats almost all of his instruments as he would a drum, pounding percussive jams out of an indie-electronic setup. The second one is improvement.
The grimy percussion that kicks off "Subtractions"-- the opening track to Dosh's fifth solo full-length, Tommy-- may shock those familiar with the producer's work. Dosh's previous records had a tendency to open with a sort of tonal discretion, allowing the listener some sapce before working themselves into jazz-imbued grooves. Tommy, however, begins in the middle, and as such, "Subtractions" sounds as if someone had flipped the "record" switch during a jam session without letting anyone know that tape was rolling.
Martin Dosh describes the minimal, repetitive soundscapes he assembles as post-rock, a genre that's as vague and inclusive as the music he makes on Tommy. (The album has absolutely nothing in common with the Who's album of the same name, in case you're wondering.) The pieces here -- it's hard to call them songs or tracks -- are almost ambient, but there's too much noise and too many shifting sounds to keep you from spacing out for too long. It could be called space music, but it eschews the soothing sounds associated with that genre.
Martin Dosh is many things: a local treasure/fixture to those living in the Twin Cities, occasional touring drummer for Andrew Bird, and a practitioner of solo loop-based performance par excellence. Unfortunately, one thing Dosh isn’t is a guy who knows his way around a memorable hook. That creates a certain tension in describing his latest album; Tommy is packed to the brim with a dazzling array of musical ideas, but only a handful of moments that stick with you afterward.
When I caught Andrew Bird at least year’s Austin City Limits Festival, he sported his usual charm and wit – and sure, he brought his ‘A’ game with amazing new takes on his own songs. But at the side of him, neatly situated behind a drum set, drum machine and electric piano was Dosh. Bird would often allow the multi-instrumentalist to lead the tempo on a song here, take over the melody on a different one there, and so on.