I’m not sure about dance music, I don’t really understand it and I’m not sure how to. But I do like ambient/techno post dance outfit Dialog. Their work is for the hazy moments in life, the post-drink, post-club, post-party moments, when one’s head feels a bit syrupy, tiny noises seem like nuclear explosions and your eye-lids start to droop.
Here Dialog aim to transport your fractured countenance to an underwater world. The beginning of the album launches with the sound of electronic bubbles, as you trip backwards, fall and sink below the waves. You open your eyes, you can breathe of course and you see a Beatle-esque cartoon landscape, were octopi doff their top-hats to you, killer whales wink in your direction and yellow submarines float on by.
It’s a little trippy.
Water is the theme of the album, which by the way is named after the 1958 submarine flop “Run Silent Run Deep” starring Burt Reynolds and Don Rickles. It’s the kind of film you see on Channel 4 in the afternoon before Countdown, made on the cheep, you don’t even see any sea. Anyway……water is the theme of the album, a metaphor for the unconscious mind. It’s warm and pleasant front-crawling on the surface, snorkeling over the reef, but monsters lurk deep below ready to drag you down to much more unpleasant places.
That is the album’s pattern, submerged, caught and dragged to the ugly depths and then released to the surface gasping for breath. Musically parts of “Run Silent Run Deep” reminded me of Sven Libeck’s “Inner Space” an album I heartily recommended, although it is quite hard to track down. Libeck was a Norwegian jazzster who spent most of his life sunning himself on Australian beaches instead of scowling at sheep amid the hilly melancholy of Norge. His music is so unbelievably evocative of the Australian Coral Reef, particularly the track “Dark World” which conjures up images of drifting through shoal’s of dazzlingly coloured tropical fish amid the wondrous blue of the Great Barrier Reef, a tame reef at any rate, were nothing bites and nothing stings, like Stingray without the strings. Fans of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou will recognise the music as the backing to the films underwater scenes.
The music here is perhaps a little less entertaining, but no less effective. Like Libeck there is use of shimmery electronic piano tones and echoy chords as the music bounces around the empty chasm of the sea. Dialog’s ocean gets increasingly darker as the album progresses with strings playing Morricone minor chords against dance beats.
“Absent” the longest track on the record is wonderfully catchy. Electronic gales and crashing waves can be heard growing in the background, but the centre of the track remains elegantly calm with an Arabesque sounding electric guitar melody. The tripped out beats continue as the tracks become more and more dark and the ocean floor is reached. On the track “Lament Configuration”, it is almost as if a wreck is studied on the ocean floor, and a sample of what sounds like Peter Lorre can be heard saying “what will be your pleasure sir” in a long lost bar.
The penultimate cut “Taking the Easy Way Out” returns us to the surface and the fictional seascape from earlier in the record. It is co-written with The Beaufort Scale, the London based ambient group and is one of the most exciting pieces on the record, with a wonderful drum line as the surface nears. Echoing Sven Libeck there is great use of flute in this, to advance the melody and guide the swirling strings. In the final track “Gothic Monks”, your nose touches the shore and nothing now stands between you and home. This is the most overtly upbeat dance track on the CD and brings the curtain down on a liltingly relaxing record.
I don’t suppose serious fans of electronica/dance music and those knowledgeable of its history will find anything new or revolutionary here and like any piece of wordless music, there will be those that find it boring. But for someone who wants to try and consider dance music as an art form for once, then they can do no better than to start that task here.