8. The Black Dog – ‘The Temple of Transparent Balls’

Posted: March 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Album Review, Ambient, Ambient Techno, Techno | Tags: | No Comments »

Black Dog - Temple of Transparent Balls

The Black Dog * Temple of Transparent Balls * 1993 * GPR

The Black Dog was one of the first ‘intelligent dance music’ outfits to carry the Warp Records banner. Celebrated in the press and adored by Bjork, The Black Dog was a three-man effort: Ken Downie, an ex-Naval radio operator, and b-boys Andy Turner and Ed Handley, who later formed Plaid on their own. The three released several groundbreaking EPs in the early ’90s (later collected on 2007′s Book of Dogma).

In 1993, the trio released their two best albums, Bytes on Warp, and Temple of Transparent Balls on GPR. The second effort took more chances and is more coherent, recorded during an extended stay in Belgium. It’s filled with tinker toy melodies and drunken electronics, at times astray in a sad metropolis or jumping for joy in a sonic junkyard of the future.

The Black Dog was an odd complex of worldviews, fusing ‘bleep’ techno with dub and hip hop sensibilities. Temple compressed those influences into a sonic gemstone. “From the opening digital skank of ‘Cost I’ to the closing circuit board tears on ‘The Crete That Crete Made,’” critic Peter McIntyre wrote, it “took every single strand of modern music, mixed it all up and produced something that sounded like nothing else on the planet.”

Tracks like ’4, 7, 8′ and ‘Sharp Shooting on Saturn’ swayed like marionettes to delirious melodies. ‘Jupiter’ revved like a possessed motor, a bumper car ride through an eye-popping bubble city. ‘Mango’ followed a similar line, this time freaking to Latin rhythms and ragtime keys — a frenetic jam session in a video game jungle. Serious numbers like ‘Cost II’ and ‘In the Light of the Grey’ glided through darker environs, at once quirky and moody, while ‘The Crete That Crete Made’ was a lullaby for robots.

The Black Dog was always mercurial in its experiments, an upside down world of zero gravity fantasies. Later productions would prove consistently powerful in their delicateness. But nothing they did before or after, together or apart, quite matched the feverish games in the Temple of Transparent Balls. Step inside, and find yourself break-dancing in an astronaut’s dream.

1. Cost I
2. Cost II
3. 4, 7, 8
4. The Actor and Audience
5. Jupiter
6. Kings of Sparta
7. Sharp Shooting on Saturn
8. Mango
9. Cycle
10. In the Light of Grey
11. The Crete That Crete Made

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