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The Black Dog ‘Neither/Neither’ – Album Review

Dust Science Recordings (2015)

Continuing their prolific streak, the fourth incarnation of IDM stalwarts The Black Dog use Neither/Neither, their seventh album in a decade, to address the dangers of political systems, propaganda and social media.

The fact that a garbled sample of Adam Curtis, the acclaimed documentarian renowned for his work on media manipulation, is the only dialogue heard makes the efforts of Martin and Richard Dust and founding member Ken Downie all the more impressive.

Indeed, conjuring up a sense of dread right from the opening number, “Non Linear Information Life,” the almost entirely instrumental Neither/Neither shows that music can sometimes speak louder than words. In particular, the brooding title track, which evokes the paranoid Cold War vibes as last year’s Boards of Canada comeback, and “Them (Everyone Is A Liar But),” which combines the doom-laden electronica of vintage Depeche Mode with foreboding sci-fi atmospherics, both make The Black Dog’s viewpoint on the current political climate crystal clear without uttering a syllable.

But while the first half of Neither/Neither seems determined to put the world to rights, the pacier second sees the trio attempt to dance their troubles away with a series of increasingly pulsating floorfillers.

At first, the change in BMP is a welcome one, with “Self Organising Sealed Systems” the kind of dramatic Berlin techno that you could imagine gracing the soundtrack of Run Lola Run, and the Future Sound of London-esque “Commodification” both offering plenty of thrills.

However, the record appears to run out of ideas towards its intense finale, with titles such as “Hollow Stories, Hollow Head” and “Phil vs. David” proving to be far more intriguing than the music they actually accompany.

As its name suggests, Neither/Neither is a record of two halves, but it’s one which proves that The Black Dog still merit their place alongside Autechre, Aphex Twin and LFO in the pantheon of IDM greats.

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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