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Black Dog
Peel Sessions

Before their was Plaid, there was a group called The Black Dog. Although they released several albums (some of which are highly collectible now), they didn't get much exposure in the United States. While one of their first releases Bytes was a part of the fabled (and rightly so) Artificial Intelligence series of the early nineties (along with Autechre's Incunabula and several others), their second album Spanners managed to get a co-release with the monster corporation of Warner Brothers and quickly found its way to markdown bins everywhere. The large label didn't have the knowledge to promote the group (for that matter, they still don't have the knowledge to promote groundbreaking music) at the time and although it wasn't the breaking point, it was one of the last albums for the group.

In one of their ever-cool ideas, Warp Records began pulling Peel sessions from the old days and releasing them as EP's starting with Autechre and continuing on with Boards Of Canada, Mira Calix, and even the post-Black Dog group Plaid. Like some of the other releases, even though these five songs have been pulled from further back in the day (January of 1995, to be exact, just before the release of aforementioned Spanners.)

The five tracks on the disc span just over 30 minutes and are solid tracks from the IDM spectrum that Warp as a label has been helping to promote for over 10 years now. Things open up with the simple but effective chimes and plunks of "Shadehead" before showing almost a tribal edge to the beat on "Rise Up." They play with lots of haunting sounds and their beats sound like cold derivatives of hip-hop, but the music is well constructed and the whole release lopes along in a slightly off-kilter haze. The almost 9-minute album closer of "Psycosin" (also from the Spanners album) is even much better than the original in that the group pulls things apart and spreads them out even more, building the tension of the track even more.

One of the best ways to describe this release is that it sounds somewhat like Plaid, except for that it's a little less playful. Instead of having a quirky and/or goofy sound, The Black Dog usually favors something a smidge on the darker side. It's interesting to compare the two, though, and if you like the rest of the work by the group, it's a must. Another interesting slice of music from a time past.

Rating: 7.25