There is seemingly no such thing as an electronica “band.” There are duos, there are “collectives,” but mostly electronica is a genre of loners. This, for the most part, can be said of Martin Dosh, a Minneapolis producer who has been a fixture on the Anticon label for several years, being one of their few acts that sidesteps hip-hop almost entirely. Yet Dosh, according to the press release accompanying his latest release The Lost Take, has always wanted to create the sound of an electronica band, and, with a team of around a dozen players in tow, does just that.
The rich textures of instrumental layering on The Lost Take make it a step beyond your standard electronic collection. Not content to reconfigure existing samples into new forms, Dosh and his “band” take live instrumentation and assemble an orchestrated beat masterpiece that would make Matthew Herbert proud. It may not come as much of a surprise that artists like Fog’s Jeremy Ylvisaker lends guitar and bass duties to the recordings, yet some of the other cast members of this merry ensemble come from less predictable sources, such as Michael Lewis from jazz trio Happy Apple, Erik Appelwick from lo-fi rockers Tapes `n Tapes and even songwriter/violinist/whistler extraordinaire, Andrew Bird.
From a compositional standpoint, the songs on The Lost Take certainly sound like electronica, structurally-speaking. Dosh’s sequencing of beats, synth melodies and instrumental takes makes for a warm and glitchy blanket of sound. The opener, “One Through Seven,” is one of the most perfectly seamless examples of this integration of sequencing and the dense strata of a full band sound. Synth and mellotron samples, coupled with xylophone and saxophone make for a jazzy headtrip that easily outdoes anything DJ Shadow’s been up to lately. “Everybody Cheer Up Song,” one of only three tracks with vocals, is soft and pleasant, the closest anyone has ever come to making a folk-tronica sound that lives up to its dubious name. Andrew Bird’s gorgeous violin marks “Um, Circles and Squares,” an energetic and lively standout, while “Mpls Rock and Roll,” though by no means a Replacements homage, does contain more of a rock sound, albeit a dreamy and gentle one.
“Pink Floyd Cowboy Song” doesn’t necessarily sound like what its name might imply, but rather approximates what has already been said about this trippy song, that it sounds like Broken Social Scene with four members instead of, well, however many there are. And in a manner of speaking, Dosh’s The Lost Take is a lot like an electronic Broken Social Scene. There are many players and there is a central songwriting core, but the lineup is never exactly the same. Yet the results are consistently amazing.
Manitoba – Up in Flames
Tortoise – TNT
Four Tet – Rounds
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.