Dogs Do Dream
guitarist and composer who's active in the Vancouver area, Ron Samworth needs
no real introduction for readers of this magazine, who have seen his name
mentioned many times for his being a core player in those various ensembles led
by cellist and composer Peggy Lee, a fine recent for instance being the album
titled Tell Tale, released under the moniker Film In Music, which I reviewed in
very favourable terms just a few months ago.
per its title, Dogs Do Dream moves along "concept" lines that would
be the envy of those old-time "prog" conceptualizations, having as
its core "the dream life of dogs"; or, better said, those mental
representations that dogs - in this case, a specific dog, the hero of the story
told here - have of the life they lead.
music featured on the album is a successful mix of rock, jazz, folk, and
classical, a whole that's much more coherent than my quick description could
lead one to believe. Among the featured musicians, I saw familiar names
appearing side-by-side with names I have never encountered before.
it's to be expected, the story being successful depends for a large part on the
voice of the... dog, which plays a great part on the album. Quite surprisingly,
the dog - it's a male - speaks in a female voice, with bizarre results when it
comes to the album's "erotic" moment. It has to be said that Barbara
Adler has a voice that's very musical and versatile, and that - with some help
from various effects and equalization - she easily succeeds in making the
listener become involved, and feel as a part of the narration.
album features many "songs" - here meaning: narration plus music -
alongside some instrumental episodes, for the most part on the brief side,
meant to give more "breath" to the story.
recorded sound, a lot of styles being featured, a duration of about 60' - I
never looked at my watch once - this is an album I listened to a lot, well
beyond my critic's duty, for a whole week.
Music and text by Ron Samworth, produced by Dylan Van Der Schyff,
recorded by Sheldon Zaharko at The Warehouse on 10 & 11 May, 2016, mixed
and mastered by Dylan Van Der Schyff.
Featuring: Ron Samworth on electric guitar and effects, Barbara
Adler on narration, JP Carter on trumpet and effects, Tyson Naylor on piano,
keyboards, and accordion, Peggy Lee on cello, James Meger on electric bass,
double bass, and effects, Skye Brooks on drums.
Appearing as guests, sometimes in a cameo role: Iris Pomeroy on
vocals, Dylan Van Der Schyff on drums and percussion, Torsten Müller on double
bass, Bill Clark on trumpet, Robin Holcomb on piano, Wayne Horvitz on DX-7 and
album works as a whole, like a "radio drama" of times long gone (it
would be fantastic to catch it on stage, with the aid of pictures and assorted
images). Listeners will have no trouble finding their favourite musical
Sleeping is a fine opener for the album: beautiful, appropriately
dream-like, slightly melancholic, a unison melody for trumpet and cello, snare
played brushes (an ensemble sound that at first made me think I was listening
to a Peggy Lee record). Dream-like vocals. Effects, background voices. Piano,
double bass. Then it's back to the theme.
Rapid Eye Movement presents a restless mood, effects, a filter
modulation on the synthesizer, trumpet, "scratching" on the cello,
vocal effects, percussion, the mood gets tenser.
Swimming starts with an arpeggiated guitar on an odd-time
signature, drums, cello and trumpet in a fine melody. It gets faster, with keyboards,
trumpet, narration. A rhythmic push, keyboards, trumpet, effects.
The Underbrush starts with piano, effects, and cello acting as a
"noisy" carpet. Narration on a tense-sounding "silence",
featuring effects. There's a rhythmic ostinato with guitar, bass, trumpet, à la
Miles Davis circa Agharta-Bitches Brew, something that sounds like a fanfare,
electric piano, synthesizer, and guitar.
Reflection is a concise episode for solo piano. It follows a
melodic idea, makes use of the "smorzato" pedal, and at 1' 35"
presents a blues-gospel sound that's surprisingly Monk-like.
Lying On My Back has an intro for arpeggio guitar in rubato, with
finger sounds on the strings. Vocals are appropriately relaxed.
Muck About is a brief episode for solo double bass played arco.
On The Trail has a "folk" melody for accordion (it
reminded me a bit of Nimal-Skeleton Crew). Erotic narration. Back to the
"folk"-sounding melody. Toms played brushes, fine accordion solo,
then guitars, trumpet, synthesizer.
Cool Grass/Frisbee starts with two-hands piano, an arpeggio
playing a fine melody. Harmonics, narration, a fine arpeggio as a pedal for a
lyric-sounding cello solo. Trumpet with echo and effects. For me, this is the
best track on the album.
Evening Crows is a brief episode for solo cello,
"scratch", harmonics, glissando.
Smells/Other Dogs starts with narration, background sounds,
traffic and birds, voices. A piano arpeggio, cello, trumpet. Noises, trumpet,
something that sounds like a ring modulator, drums, piano, cello, a bluesy mood
in ¾, a trumpet solo, cello. Quite Monk-like as per Wayne Horvitz, circa
Miracle Mile. Nice, but in my opinion it goes on a bit too long.
Gulls, Gills, Guts features a double bass played arco playing
harmonics, drums, percussion. Nice, but to me it sounds like an out-take off
the Film In Music CD.
Drones... Bones, as per its title, offers a loop
Fighting features a tense-sounding narration (of course!), with
appropriate background. Then, an odd-time signature (which reminded me a bit of
Material) with noises, guitar, synth, drums.
Waking Up fades in, with piano, cello, cymbals, trumpet, with a
serene-sounding melody under the narration. Fine close, with a unison note from
piano and the bell of a cymbal.
Dog Day works like a movie's "end credits". Starting
with a rhythmic guitar chord, then drums played brushes, piano, it almost
sounds like a bossa. Then, trumpet and cello paint a peaceful melody.
© Beppe Colli 2017
CloudsandClocks.net | July 24, 2017