TTW#68 – Graham Dowdall – Outside Broadcast
A: Home Service
B: Light Programme
Graham “Dids” Dowdall has been active on the outer limits of music for several decades. Starting out as drummer in Manchester cult band Ludus he then worked with Eric Random & the Bedlamites and spent several years recording and touring with Nico. He’s collaborated live and on record with many others along the way including John Cale, Suns of Arqa, Band of Holy Joy. He is currently a member of avant rock legends Pere Ubu, has an acclaimed solo electronica project Gagarin and works with rising Welsh-Iranian singer-songwriter Roshi, in Roshi featuring Pars Radio. His last solo Gagarin album “Biophilia” (yes, Björk nicked the title) received great reviews being described in Musicweek as “stunning beautiful glitchy electronica” and in Mojo as “electronica in its rawest sense”. He has a wide-ranging portfolio career that also includes running music workshops with disabled children, training and teaching at Goldsmiths College.
“Outside Broadcast” is a departure from the more beat-driven glitchy style of Gagarin and is an evocation of childhood evenings sitting at an old “Portable” radio, obsessively tuning bakelite dials across the airwaves – finding a weird sound to luxuriate in, then a bit of strange music, an exotically named station, a call sign or simply the sound of the dial, all masked in MW/SW/LW noise. It’s a distressed and lo-fi sound-world created with a cassette release in mind – no sharp beats or hi-fi… The main instrument was a 90s radio-cassette player alongside two iPad apps. It’s hoped that repeated play will enhance the sound as the tape deteriorates.
Vital Weekly (NL):
Perhaps you remember Graham Dowdall from the previous reviews of his work (Vital Weekly 544, 781 and 895) or maybe because at one point in his career he was a member of Ludus, Eric Random & The Bedlamites and toured with Nico. His solo work seems to be about rhythm machines, synthesizers, electronics, and is usually moody, melodic and melancholic. Something different than his earlier work with others, but here he changes his tune. “Outside Broadcast” was made with the cassette in mind, using a 90s cassette recorder and two iPad apps. Two long, almost twenty-minute pieces of music here, which use more synthesizers that play a more ambient tune, along with some additional sound material, and maybe radio hiss leaking in. Maybe he was outside, in a field, playing this music and capturing it on the spot? It has a nice free play element to it, a kind of improvised ambient music. Both pieces seem to break down into smaller parts, but it strangely remains coherent on that atmospheric level. I don't think many of his fans will love this change of tune, but I thought it sounded like a great, daring move. A fine trip outside.