The Black Dog - Book Of Dogma

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  • Legend has it that if you come across a black dog roaming the countryside, you will die unless you tell someone about the experience. Tales of supernatural dogs haunting the English moors were not unusual, particularly in Yorkshire; they even formed the basis for the Conan Doyle story 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. No surprise then that the British adopted 'black dog' as a slang phrase referring to imminent doom. Equally odd, even mythical to some, is the music of The Black Dog, a group of enlightened musicians who were in part responsible for originating the ‘IDM’ genre. The original trio of Downie, Handley and Turner created dance music which confused many critics back in nineties, much like the supernatural dog must have bewildered local mushroom farmers back in the day. Miles away from old-skool/hardcore hedonism of the time, yet not quite the dub/ambient bubblings of the likes of The Orb, The Black Dog’s sound fell somewhere between the two, though always there was an undercurrent of commitment to a certain identity, and the good cause of never just taking the cash. Their first full-length album 'Bytes' arrived on Warp in 1992, a logical move in an era when many labels weren't nearly adventurous enough. FFWD fifteen years to their 'Book Of Dogma' on Soma, a title suggesting a ‘best of’ double-album from a group who have themselves gone on to become part of English folklore. CD 1 opens with 'Virtual', which is probably their best known track, having appeared on so many comps including most recently Carl Craig’s ‘Kings of Techno’ mix: This was the soundtrack to many a truant-playing episode at school when the raving days had only just begun. Three versions of the track appear on 'Book of Dogma', which could rekindle a debate among fans as to which is the best. Not that it matters; each version brings something unique to the record. CD 2 of this album, which is actually a reissue of the 'Parrallel' LP released in '95, features further timeless gems such as 'Aural Wallpaper' and 'Vanttool', both of which have touches of melodic Detroit similar to the work of Kenny Larkin among others. With inventive track titles and great artwork to accompany their intricate rhythms and soft grooves, The Black Dog somehow managed to remain influential yet aloof in their studio perched high up in Black Dog Towers, a location shrouded in mystery. Offering credible work in response to what was happening thousands of miles away in Detroit, they stood back from the media and club circuit in truly humble fashion to focus on the task in hand. Recording under monikers such as Balil, Xeper and the Discordian Popes, it doesn’t take a genius to see just how influential The Black Dog actually were - 'Glassolalia' could be anything by the Boards Of Canada, 'The Age Of Slack' from way back in 1989 is an obvious forerunner to the UK drum n bass scene, while 'Techno Playtime' of 1990 sounds akin to Aphex Twin. The flipside is that during these heady days of experimentation they managed to come up with irritatingly unlistenable tracks like 'Dog Solitude', 'Erb' and 'Squelch'. Consistently producing anomalous work, The Black Dog never quite did what was expected, something which became part of their allure. When you can produce epic beauty in pieces like 'Hub', a little unlistenability is more than worth the effort. True fans of The Black Dog and IDM in general will be in puppy-dog heaven at the second chance to possess all twenty two of these tracks, particularly if your vinyl ain't what it used to be. Music like this never required hype to sell it and never would have worked on this premise anyway; the true journey to connect here begins with the listener. The crew manning Black Dog Towers may have changed down the years, possibly the cause of a six year hiatus between 1999 in 2005, but with a recent album on Dust Recordings and the 'Riphead EP' on Soma, did they ever really leave us? Whether you’re a dog-lover or not, this deserves a play on every stereo at least once.
  • Tracklist
      CD1 1 Virtual 2 The Weight 3 Ambience With Teeth 4 The Age Of Slack 5 Tactile 6 The Weight (Liposuction Mix) 7 Techno Playtime 8 Apt 9 Chiba 10 It Felt Like It 11 Seer & Sages 12 Dog Solitude CD2 1 Parallel 2 Squelch 3 Erb 4 Glassolalia 5 Hub 6 Vanttool 7 Aural Wallpaper 8 Rainbow Bridge 9 Virtual Hmmm 10 VIR2L