After the disassembling of ‘90s electronic act One Dove—who only managed to release one LP in 1993, Morning Dove White—singer/songwriter Dot Allison appeared to pull off a disappearing act. That is, until 1999.
Slipping between the folky likes of Beth Orton, brooding electro of Violet Indiana, and alternative technics of Depeche Mode, Allison’s cold yet melodic songs talk not so much from her words (which seem to be few), but more from the music she’s created. When Allison finally reappeared in 1998, the Scottish beauty came on with a barrage of singles a year later, including such titles as “Tomorrow Never Comes”, “Mo’ Pop”, “Colour Me”, “Message Personnel”, and “Close Your Eyes”. She was establishing herself as a solo artist, even making time to release her first LP, Afterglow. Now 2002, Allison has come around again with her second LP, We Are Science, where the blondie gives us a heavy dose of captivating moods, hookish beats and dips into genres of old.
What the listener will realize the moment her first track, “We’re Only Science”, begins to pound, is that they’re not dealing with cheeky trance tunes. Allison enjoys using some dense and dark rhythms, allowing the listener to feel as if they’re stuck in a dusky, futuristic world. Thumpy bass throbs to the one-two beat. Allison moans the words “We’re Only Science”. Laser-beam tones zip and zoom, sounding as if they came from a Fisher Price keyboard. It’s an atmosphere that’s undoubtedly addictive.
But she doesn’t stop there. Allison is also keen on moving your feet without resorting to typical techno style. Instead of using a straight-up dance rhythm with an overbearing myriad of engineering tricks, Allison utilizes a few, in entrancing fashion. The second track “Substance” is a good example, sounding as if it jumped straight up from ‘80s new wave. There’s a catchy beat reminiscent of some New Order flavor, refusing to become convoluted with extraneous production. Instead, the track is a concoction of simple synthetics that involve tiny bleeps and blops under Allison’s airy breath. That same observation can be applied amongst head-bopping bass lines in songs such as “Make It Happen”. Again, video-game tweeks are what add charm to the track.
There is so much present in regards to evocative pieces of electronica, dance, and new wave, that we can forget her other musical abilities spread throughout the album. Allison throws in acoustic guitar for one of the album’s finest tracks, “Wishing Stone”. Contemplative and beautifully arranged, the song is like a folkish dreamscape, gentle but largely moving at the same time. She also tacks on some slower, somber mood in songs such as “Lover” and “Hex”, bordering on more of a trip-hop style. “Lover” is the wistful one of the two, leaving swaying rhythm and solid drums to take residence under Allison’s voice. “Hex” moves slightly quicker, highlighting lowbrow bass that creates seductive vibes.
All in all, Dot Allison comes off as more of a talker thorough sound then she is through dialogue. And that’s the prime reason We Are Science ends up as an intriguing effort—one that should be heard multiple times. Along with help from Keith Tenniswood (Two Lone Swordsmen), Mercury Rev, and Death in Vegas, it’s not so much the various styles and moves that end up holding interest. More so, it’s about the meditative if not ominous ambiance that ultimately keeps you yearning for more.
// Notes from the Road
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