Dosh – ‘Wolves and Wishes’
July 31, 2008 § Leave a comment
Published: The Vine, July 25, 2008.
Wolves and Wishes
A record from Minneapolis instrumental savant Martin Dosh is always cause for anticipation. Over three long players for leftist Oakland hip-hop imprint Anticon – including the speckled, sonic cinematics of 2006’s The Lost Take – he has explored an array of gently experimental leanings and inflections, visiting instrumental tropes as diverse as jazz, ambience and bookish film music.
While the results have proved charming – The Lost Take’s ‘Everybody Cheer Up Song’ and ‘O Mexico’ were beauteous, masterful strokes – much of Dosh’s appeal has rested in possibility and potential. His masterful sense of arrangement and endless sonic palette were always obvious; he just hadn’t pressed all the right buttons at once. Fourth full-length Wolves and Wishes might just be that moment.
Across 10 instrumental sketches, Dosh and his master-class of collaborators weave flashes of tonal and melodic and emotive clarity into a patchwork of simmering, elusive but gradually flourishing phrases and motifs. Andrew Bird’s violins, Mike Lewis’s clarinet and saxophone, Fog front man Adam Broader’s guitars, and a particularly visceral volley of vocal hollers from one Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, each wonderfully embellish Dosh’s drums/Rhodes/piano patois.
The urgent angularities of ‘Bury the Ghost’, opaque, droning ambience of ‘First Impossible’ and ‘Food Cycles’, and the spacious piano, violin, pedal-steel and voice of ‘Kit and Pearle’ all make for highlights. The glimmering prog-pop hook of ‘Wolves’ – too – is a striking, evocative moment.
The strength here, it seems, is in the record’s underlying tension. Dosh flirts with, but never fully embraces each aesthetic and emotive departure; he explores their flourishes, but never allows them to wrestle control. It’s a brilliantly astute quality. Rather than leaving us yearning for the completion of each aesthetic gesture, Wolves and Wishes maps its own path, with Dosh weaving each transitory inflection and accent into his own new vernacular.
The part beautiful, part contemplative, part referential, part primeval – this is very much a record to be absorbed in its entirety. While its individual volumes prove intriguing, it’s only they’re filed and shelved as one proud collection that Wolves and Wishes espouses Dosh’s true, subtle mastery.