29 November 2015

The Black Dog - Spanners

I'm not interested particularly in adding to the canon - everyone loves Spanners don't they? - but in the spirit of revisiting it recently...

It is striking thing. It's a thinking thing. I remembered hearing it for the first time all over again & thinking that these guys were properly aligned with the avant-garde in a way that most of this era (every era) techno / IDM just weren't. I loved Aphex Twin and Autechre and Reload but The Black Dog were entirely odder & clearly unwilling to make commercial leans even in the vaguest of senses. The disco and techno bits of this album show they could easily be assimilated into (what would become) background music for Masterchef / Football Results / Home Improvement shows but the other bits were just so bowel-churningly creepy & psychedelically awkward that you can imagine advertising execs & music placers not being able to... place it.

There's bits on Spanners that make it exist in the world of Coil or The Residents rather than Hip Hop (or Kraftwerk, or Tomita, or Eno), bits that prevent a lay person wandering through the Warp catalogue keeping going....

Bytes was good but Bytes did attempt a theme of sorts; you had a clue as to what was coming next. With Spanners, the chimera / Cerberus is much more evident; this was the multi-headed techno beast in all it's directions, all at once...

I'm going back in. Bits of it our soundtracking our regular live action Angry Birds simulation (you hurl a 5 year old boy towards stuffed toys and pillow constructions) and it works perfectly: scary, silly, serious, soft. The 5 year old says some of it sounds like 'the pigs have gone crazy' and he's right; they really have.

2 comments:

Matthew McKinnon said...

It really is a truly great album, isn't it? Though, oddly, it was my gateway album into IDM [I was all 4/4, then segued into less rigid territory via Orbital's very patchy 'Snivilisation', which in turn loosened me up for this ] though nothing else ever quite matched up to it. I think it's the sheer volume of ideas and styles made everything else seem a monotone by comparison.

After BDP split, I became a Plaid obsessive off the back of this, but much as I liked them Plaid were always too clean and fun compared to 'Spanners'.

Saxon said...

yeah, Plaid never did it for me in the same way...

And Snivilization is great because it's so patchy, i think...

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