Is It That Time Already?
Even if you didn’t know Danny The Dog was in fact the soundtrack to the film of the same name, it is very easy to imagine some sort of concept or story to this album. Despite being entirely devoid of vocals, the twenty-one tracks on Danny The Dog successfully create some sort of mental dialogue and convey depth of emotion only really describable through sound. One can imagine the angles and panning shots that would accompany tracks such as ‘Simple Rules’ or ‘Collar Stays On’.
The instrumentation is mostly electronic or heavily effect-laden, sometimes the sound of a real instrument is discernible, but mostly the album is built on layers of sound. This electronic style, with a whole variety of atypical sounds juxtaposed with the sounds of a massive string orchestra, may not appeal to your standard Room Thirteen reader, but I implore each one of you to at least try to lose yourself in Danny The Dog.
Some of the pieces are little more than sketches, used to convey an emotion, lasting barely one minute, so what looks like a long CD, with 21 tracks, actually disappears surprisingly quickly. The lack of vocals almost remove a sense of time, and many of the pieces, try ‘P Is For Piano’, have such an elusive pulse, that it can be difficult to remember exactly how long you have been listening. The pieces soon merge to form one long soundscape, varying styles and ideas, but it would appear that this is one of the defining features of the album. There is no point in identifying a stand-out track or possible singles, the record is a single entity, split into 21 parts.
The album explores the spiritual side of sound from the aggressive beginning at ‘Atta Boy’, slowly calming down through the more sedate and trippy ‘Polaroid Girl’ and the childish simplicity of ‘Sam’, which builds into its solemn string and piano climax. The pace is returned with ‘One Thought At A Time’, one of the longer pieces on the record. ‘Confused Images’ is a sort of limbo, before ‘Red Light Means Go’ twinkles into existence. By now I am missing the aggression of the beginning of the album, the sound is by no means boring, it has just become a little overdone. Luckily ‘Collar Stays On’ muscles through to my rescue and keeps me interested. The pulse-less pieces are interspersed with the pulse-ful (Yes, I did make that word up.) pieces, creating a stop-start feeling in the listener’s head. However, there are more of the former than of the latter, and I know that some people cannot stand these sorts of sound. I can imagine that many people would agree that Danny The Dog would be fantastic film music, but as a stand-alone album may be a little understimulating in places.
An interesting interlude is the creepy plinking of ‘Two Rocks And A Cup Of Water’, managing to create a pulse without the use of standard percussion. Late at night, a piece of music like this could frighten small children with next to no effort. There is a definite leaning in the way of more reflective emotions in the second half of the album. ‘Montage’ creates a journey from sadness, through something a little brighter, all the way back to a reflective sadness. From the reverberating piano in the first few seconds, it is clear that ‘Everything About You Is New is going to be no happier, the strings make a return here for what could be the big emotional scene before the final showdown. The haunting and violent sounds return with ‘The Dog Obeys’ and ‘Danny The Dog’, before ‘I Am Home’ declares victory ‘The Academy’ reflects on it.
Twenty-one tracks. You wouldn’t believe it on first listen. To the average Room Thirteen reader, this will be mostly bland, with a spattering of interest. I found that this CD is excellent background music, perhaps for working to or as the sound behind some sort of party, but it is difficult to maintain interest in when actively listening. As a film soundtrack, it is totally effective, but as a stand-alone album it can become dull.