Dots (reissue)

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Dots | Dots
Astral Industries (2xLP/DL)

It’s been twenty-two years since its initial release (on Rather Interesting), but this ’94 classic self-titled work by Dots (Noel Summerville, Uwe Schmidt) gets a classy remastered double vinyl treatment by Astral Industries, and this is the first time this appears on wax (due July 15). This is as fresh as I can remember, and it’s been quite a while since I first heard this. Opening with the lilting ambience of Friendly Cortex, this immediately brings to mind the era of what I consider new ambient, this was a time when we saw labels like EM:T, Instinct Ambient, Fax, Mille Plateaux and others start to emerge with wildly listenable catalogues – refreshing a genre that had all but evaporated for some years in between. For these ears there has been no other emergence similar since on these terms.

This new remaster is super silky smooth. The tracks are neatly packed, ranging between futuristic signal transmissions and lofty techno lite, its a quirky fusion that serves the senses, especially on the title cut. Here there is a distant homage to the progressive German electronics of the mid to late 70s, mixed with the allure of sci fi soundtracks then and even now. Though super subtle in so many ways, the moodiness is indicative of a movement bored with the contemporary sounds of the time (the bastardization of pop/rock music, the second wave of what once was rap, churned out + over-produced house music, and the post MTV era). This soothes the soul as lounge music once did, so there’s a common thread I’d never imagine until in retrospect.

This would usher in a whole era of genre defining/defying work by Schmidt under endless pseudonyms, of course Summerville would go on to master the decks at Pye Studios – working on countless notable projects to this day. The meandering wave synths on Spinout Segment harken to any number of works of the era: Tetsuo Inoue, Young American Primitive, Terre Thaemlitz, Woob…it’s intense and stylistic. With a shimmering backdrop the fuzzy beats become highly addictive to the ears, even if they sound an alarm. Their is a dramatic sense of escapism on Stain (Dot), which has these searing synthetic strings and mysterious sense of intimate discord.

On the final side Tonic Edge starts in silence, and calmly opens into a Spring-fresh Moog-iness with amplified low bass bursts and tingling higher chords. I can hear the influence, perhaps, of Mike Oldfield or Vangelis here. It plays on mood, between brightness and the forlorn. It’s consummately nonchalant which heightens and stimulates the way the listener receives it. Midway through the bass is blurred and gets bent into a new shape, the atmosphere sinks into new depths, slowly fading into oblivion.

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