Katie Weed - Dovetail
a cohesive glimpse into the brain
"In Transition", the 18 track offering of a madcap mix of progressive rock, humor, soundtrackery, and ambience, somehow manages to gel together and form a cohesive glimpse into the brain of its creator (whom I imagine/hope to be a bit of a mad scientist) Steve Morton, aka SRM.
First track "Smells Like Pork (Tastes Like Chicken)" is completely, fearlessly irreverent and absurd, flaunting flashy synths and samples of dogs barking and flatulence. It serves as the album's advice to its listeners to prepare for a strange variety of tracks.
Second track "American Idyll" encompasses an entirely different feel and mood-- it's dominated by wonderfully twangy electric guitars and a tapping bass, which lends itself to a shuffling, gritty Americana tone.
Track three, "Progress and Livers" is charmingly reminiscent of 1980's prog rock. A snappy synth and picky guitars are laid over a quick drum beat, making it a fun, danceable piece.
Downshifting in tempo, "Fishfin" is a much softer, more somber experience. Moody percussion and chiming synths dominate, and woodblocks add a unique touch. The track is aptly titled: it's at once smooth and sleek with all the prickliness of scales. Following up is "180", which is made up of grungy, bass driven guitar tones and insinuatory vocals, making it the darkest track on the album.
Abruptly, SRM switches gears into "Really Cheesy Theater Theme", a track which is indeed as its title suggests-- cheesy surfer punk soundtrack music that sounds right at home in a beach party film. The track is so strangely placed that it fits right in, a delightful shift back into the bizarre.
Standout track "Anna" returns to a twangily tuneful jazzy guitar and scratchy synths, peppered with Latin percussion. The piece breezily sways and crackles with magnificent vivacity.
"Trippin'" is slower in tempo and dominated by bass and hushed cymbals. The voice samples are at turns poignant and sardonic: "We assure ourselves that our destination will be Heaven", "I'm having the most perfect hallucination!, "Please help me. I've taken LSD". They lend a surreal quality to the atmosphere of the piece, proving that SRM can be thoughtful without taking himself too seriously.
It gears us up for track nine, "Sorry Danny", driven by a tuba-like tone, and it's a rollicking, fun dive into SRM's soundtracking forays. "Headlong" features whirling, gyrating synths and knocky percussion and is a perfectly fitting mood piece for building suspension, and "Luncheonette of Death"'s flashy telephone synth is interwoven with piano-like pizzazz, adding a sort of smiling tension to the mix.
Twelfth track "'Jasper did once, but he don't no more'" is another notable departure into more serious territory: it's tough, punchy, percussive, deep, and shifting-- another standout track.
"Midnight Tarmac" is a more traditional electronic piece-- lively, bouncy synths and a snappy bass dominate. It's light cheerfulness is balanced by the following track "'Here they come!'", an appropriately ominous mood creator.
"Snouts in the Trough", an interpolation of chimes and humorously clever synths, marks a return to SRM's zesty and playful tone, while "Sunset" is more relaxed and ambient, using a humming, organ-like synth and a tiptoeing bass in a gradual crescendo of sound.
Seventeenth track "Iron Lung Blues" is disquieting at first, and then bluesy as labored breath transitions into a decidedly high energy track that cheerfully bounces along, merrily poking fun at smokers.
Final track "Smells Like Pork (extended dance remix)" is a fitting conclusion to the album. It remains faithful to the original version, but showcases more bass and instrumentation, all the while still remaining as wonderfully weird as before.
All in all: SRM proves that he's versatile and capable of wearing many hats: some silly, some serious. Many of the tracks here are outstanding, and the whimsical, fun ties that keep the album together are strong. Everyone is sure to find at least a few tracks to their liking, even the poppies, and giving the full album a listen through is well worth it, just to witness the dazzling spectacle that is SRM's instrumentation.