Tod Dockstader/David Lee Myers


Sporting frogs and toads, transformed as to be (almost) unrecognizable, Pond had been for me one of the most beautiful surprises of last year. The album had signaled the return to the scene of Tod Dockstader, one of the most brilliant pioneers of what is usually called "organized sound"; a pioneer whose music is the one I'd define as the one sounding the freshest - thanks both to its high quality and to the lack of recognition it received for a long, long time. Pond was a collaborative work with David Lee Myers, an artist who in his album called Engines Of Myth, released under the name Arcane Device, had proved himself to be perfectly capable to create climates that reminded one of the music by Dockstader, even if the technical means he used were quite different.

The fact that Pond had been met with so much indifference made me quite bitter. Sure, I know that nowadays ReR is not a "trendy" label (anymore), and that they don't have the kind of advertising money that'll give back the eyesight to the blind. But even among the (few) aficionados of the "genre" the album had been greeted with a certain indifference - maybe in response to a certain glut that nowadays seems endemic to the genre?

The release of Bijou was a nice surprise, but for totally different reasons: given the fact that to produce something of real substance in this idiom one needs quite a lot of time and effort I was not expecting something new so soon! I'll immediately say that the work is nicely done but that it had me wondering, my doubts being mainly provoked by what I consider to be the work's "conceptual framework" (I'm extremely curious about other critics' response, since I bet that things such as "the memory of sound" and "the resonance of the signifier" are on the average much more stimulating affairs than frogs and toads, however transformed).

Provided I have not misunderstood everything, the "conceptual framework" of this work is the music - which includes music, sounds, effects, whatever - of the movies. The first sounds we hear on the CD are the impossible-to-mistake sounds of Roll 'em, and the CD closes with the familiar "jingle" of Credits and with the sounds of Wrap. Maybe it's because I don't go to the movies much, but the "scenes" that sounded somewhat familiar to me - some "genre music" in Closer, Closer and Encasement, the sounds in Scene Of The Crime, Emergency Response and Phoning Home - sounded to me like not-terribly-stimulating reproductions, like having a switched-on TV set behind me. Here and there we have the (nasal) square waves that I consider as being typical of Myers. Then, when all appeared destined to make me feel bored as hell, it seemed like somebody has put on another CD: there is a quite brilliant series of tracks - Abstractions Unchained and Abstractions Unchained Director's Cut, Contraptions (Short), Dark Funnels, Underground Ops, Underground Ops Redux - where materials are really transformed, with absolutely brilliant results (is it just my impression, or these are the tracks where it's easier to see Dockstader's style? Anyway, they reminded me a lot of his old Owl LPs). Machine Mystique - which to me really sounds like being the work of Myers - is also very good.

In closing? I'm quite puzzled - for many reasons.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2005 | Nov. 17, 2005