Download live versions of songs off The Lost Take and Wolves & Wishes from Dosh's Daytrotter session.
A Balancing Act Of A Dentist And Dozens Of Metamorphoses -23 June 2008
Words by Sean Moeller // Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
Maybe it’s just the lingo and it’s not in me to understand it or to have been around it enough to appreciate the garden varieties of it, the ho-hum building block of the mostly instrumental music that Martin Dosh makes when he’s not maxed out being busy with everything else. When describing his song “First Impossible,” he mentions, “the main drone for this piece is something I have been working on for over three years,” and the word “drone” elevates itself right up out of the explanation. Given the chance to define it, that word would be accompanied by a soft explanation of what it means to lock into a groove. It’s the worker bee, the drone bee syndrome, a sort of monotonous system of similar initiatives that – when combined with other perfectionists in different categories – can create a dangerously spectacular experience.
A drone, meeting a drone of a different stripe, meeting a drone of a different mind makes for a three-flavored explosion of three specialists playing their cards right. Alone, it’s a drag and in combination, these three different repetitive signals, can be as exhilarating as a ride through some white rapids. Martin Dosh, Andrew Bird’s percussionist of choice (because just calling him a drummer would be a gross underestimate of the Minnesotan’s expansive talents) challenges his own efforts when he’s building these dense and daring walls of cacophonous sound and hoping that they’ll fluster people in ways that they’d never imagined they could be. He’s taken his drones and his meaty beats and braided them into a recipe that belies anything that could be categorized as simple electronic music. It could be the live-ness of how he makes and performs all of the songs that he pounded out in his basement. It could be even more to the point that he thinks like a songwriter, not a music-maker. Or at least that’s the venture that’s we’re willing to make. These pieces of music that have taken years of experimentation and dissection, re-application and jiggering, are not plated to the floorboards, but are filled with yeast buds ready to start multiplying when that targeted temperature reading hits. These songs on Wolves and Wishes are full of active ingredients that never interlope, just function precisely with one another, bringing out all of the aromas and accents needed to make the full picture – usually a peaceful torrent of steam that acts like a pulsation.
Watching Dosh work in a live setting is a bit of how it would be if there was one room – with an observation deck – or maybe a stadium full of spectators, where one we could witness a combination of things happen. These acts wouldn’t be exclusive of one another, but all happening at the same time, performed by the same person simultaneously. We’re talking about a dentist intensively drilling and filling a cavity – staying within that little off-white kernel of corn and straying from the nerve endings, a half a fleet of Monarch butterflies all metamorphosing at the same time, showing the before and after pictures, two drum corps battling off with each other, three or four hot air balloons ascending, and a big cat on the prowl. You – or we, cause this wouldn’t be something to miss – would be seeing all of this happening at once, like a hydra controllably flailing. Dosh pounds the shit out of his Rhoades with his drum sticks, then attends to his pedals, then attends to his kick for some brief flourishes, keeping the state of mind in a constant flux between the cerebral appreciation of the difficulties seen before you and the physical connection to the driving force of feeling as if you were on some sort of high-speed getaway, with Mike Lewis’ getting red and sweaty in the cheeks and giving you a flattering, brassy push with his saxophone blurts. You’d be looking behind your back all the time if the circus in front wasn’t so captivating.
DOSH ON NPR's Second Stage.
Dosh: 'Don't Wait For The Needle To Drop'
NPR.org, July 2, 2008 - Martin Dosh is a percussionist from Minneapolis, Minn., but his solo work is far from simple drum work. With Wolves and Wishes, Dosh's fourth full-length release on the Anticon label, Dosh has composed a series of richly orchestrated, mostly instrumental electronica tracks with a cinematic grandeur. With collaborative help from such well-known artists as Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Andrew Bird (for whom Dosh plays backing drums), the record finds a balance between Dosh's trippy synth, keyboard and drum work, and the album's guitars, violins, clarinets and saxophones. The result is organic, never feeling over-produced or mashed up, as it works a happy, eclectic medium between trip-hop and more grandiose orchestral sound.
The album opens with "Don't Wait for the Needle to Drop," and from the first few notes you might think you're listening to a new Sufjan Stevens record. But Dosh quickly adds a heavy hip-hop beat to disorient any expectations. Instrumental chaos builds in a flurry of keyboards, drums, and synths until a short, sweet violin melody floats out of the mix, only to be chopped up and overcome by all the bells and whistles. Ultimately, a simple repeated keyboard motive prevails and the track slides into a soft ordered decline. The record isn't all trip-happy though. Much of Wolves and Wishes rests between jazz-influenced works like the smooth piano piece "Kit and Pearle" and jam-rock tracks such as the head-bob guitar track "The Magic Stick." Still, the album holds together under Dosh's signature, nervous, percussive jitters.
While each of Dosh's albums includes a few tracks with vocals, he usually sticks to wordless music. "I like the sound of vocals and my voice, but it's just the words there's a disconnect with." For this record, Will Oldham of Bonnie "Prince" Billy offered some vocals, almost as an afterthought to Dosh.
Dosh recently wrapped up a U.S. tour and will be playing a number of festivals with Bird this summer as well as a shorter solo tour. Plans are in place for him to put together material for an EP later this year.