There’s retro and then there’s frozen in time.
There’s a revivalist techno thing going on with labels like Dust Science and Soma, and specifically the resurgence of B12 and these guys.
A bit of history – back in the day, The Black Dog was the two dudes from Plaid (before they were Plaid) and Ken Downie. The two dudes left to go do their Plaid thing and Ken kinda fucked around for a while before hitting a new stride in the mid-00s. Beyond all the reissues there was some new material.
Now, if you did the whole “desert island discs” thing becuase you’re old enough to remember when such a postulation was a fun parlour game for music nerds, I would have put 1995’s Spanners album on that list. Very high on that list, in fact, as it is the essential IDM-sounding release. Warp Records + mid-90s + these guys = classic. It’s held up quite well as one long, flowing piece. Neither techno nor braindance, it can cut a rug but it’s a bit more meaty than beaty. And it just sounds so lush, so…like a hair care commercial talking about the wonders of thick, shiny hair, but with sounds that hit your ears.
Gushing apart, let’s fast forward 13 years, to 2008. The Black Dog of 1994 is not The Black Dog of 2008; the newer version is techno-minded in the extreme. The hooks are very glassy and nearly brittle. The beats are very basic, a skeleton that the bass (which sounds truly awesome) and little acid bits are meant to fill out. And it mostly works. I’m not entirely sold on the whole back to Detroit thing – it was definitely before my time, for starters – but the bell peals of “Train by the Autobahn (part 2)” and “Digital Poacher” make a nice sandwich for the acid workouts and electro framework that fills out the reset of Radio Scarecrow.
It’s worth a taste, especially for fans of the old BD who perhaps never got too into Plaid. I wish they’d remained together, but life brings us places and tears us apart because that’s what living does.